Foreign Policy

The Unaffordability of Endless War

Transforming distant nations is a costly luxury.

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It's a shame to let accountants spoil the charming romance of war, but sometimes they insist. Recently the Congressional Research Service reported that our military undertakings in Iraq and Afghanistan have marked an important milestone. Together, they have cost more than a trillion dollars.

That doesn't sound like much in the age of TARP, ObamaCare, and LeBron James, but it is. Adjusted for inflation, we have spent more on Iraq and Afghanistan than on any war in our history except World War II. They have cost more in real dollars than the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.

But we can only wish we were getting off so lightly. Neither war is over, and neither is going to be soon. The House just approved $37 billion in extra funding to cover this year, and the administration wants another $159 billion for 2011. That won't be the final request.

Worse, the CRS figure is only part of the bill so far. It noted the sum doesn't include the "costs of veterans' benefits, interest on war-related debt, or assistance to allies." All of those will go on after these wars are over, which someday they may be.

Scholars Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia and Linda Bilmes of Harvard published a book in 2008 called The Three Trillion Dollar War, which gives a more realistic estimate. But that, too, is an understatement. They figure that when all long-run costs are factored in, the tab will be at least $5 trillion and could reach $7 trillion, or nearly twice as much as this year's entire federal budget.

And that was two years ago. I asked Bilmes for an update, and she said some obligations, like veterans' medical and disability compensation costs, "have exceeded our earlier projections." Do I hear $8 trillion?

The beauty of the current conflicts, however, is that we can pretend we don't have to pay for them. Unlike past wars, when taxes were raised to defray the cost, these have been financed with the help of borrowed funds. But eventually the astronomical bill will have to be paid.

A nation as wealthy as this one might be able to afford to go on taking out loans to squander on martial adventures if that were all we wanted our government to do. But if we expect it to pay us a decent Social Security pension, cover our medical expenses in our old age (and sometimes before), combat crime and terrorism, build and repair highways and bridges, maintain national parks, and all the rest—well, invading and transforming distant nations might just become an unaffordable luxury.

This looming constraint may be a good thing. It should force us to reassess an approach to foreign relations and national security that has not been a thunderous success.

Afghanistan seemed simple and painless at the outset. But our mission has been going on for nearly nine years, and the object of our solicitude remains a poor, violent, corruption-riddled country that gives anarchy a bad name. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said this week that the U.S. and its allies are "in the process of losing the war against the Taliban."

The Iraq invasion was supposed to be a cakewalk. Today, seven years and 34,000 casualties later, President Barack Obama says he is on the verge of bringing that war to "a responsible end." But that may hinge on how you define "responsible" and "end."

All U.S. combat troops are supposed to leave this month, but 50,000 will remain at least through 2011. Their timely departure depends on the Iraqi government achieving a tolerable level of safety and stability.

Neither is a sure thing, since July was the deadliest month for civilians in more than two years and the country still lacks a government five months after the national elections. If we leave, Iraq could easily move from severe turmoil to complete chaos. So the administration could decide we can't.

We should have learned from these experiences that money and military force are not enough to redesign the world to suit us. The record also indicates that ambitious interventions abroad are more likely to erode our security than enhance it, bankrupting us in the process.

Maybe it's time to try a different approach to the world. Last year, the Pew Research Center found that the highest proportion of Americans ever, 49 percent, agree that the United States "should mind its own business internationally." Where could they have gotten that idea?

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  1. Is there no end to the insufferable Chapman? In the case of the USA the Marxist montra of “endless war” is not because we are spoiling to find conflict, it is because others wish to fuck with us. Coamotarianism, thy mistress is drunken pacifism.

    1. These others “wish[ed] to fuck with use” in the same way that Joe Blog wants to get on with a supermodel: in their dreams.

      I’ll grant that Al Qaeda did mess with us, but if you believe that our invasion of Iraq had anything to do with Al Qaeda (except as a fiction to support us “spoiling to find a conflict”), you must hang out in the deepest of the fever swamps at Red State.

      It’s hardly “drunken pacifism” to look at eight years of conflict and see ourselves in arguably a worse place than we were when it started and then question the value. Or would you seriously argue that the world and the U.S. are, on the balance, more secure and peaceful than they would have been otherwise?

      1. “These others “wish[ed] to fuck with use”” Hey you stupid fuck….you better learn how to spell. You sure are a stupid fuck…can’t spell “US”!

        1. Got under your skin yesterday, did I? đŸ™‚

      2. When they stop attacking we leave them alone. Pretty easy.

        1. The Iraqis attacked us?

          1. Did they not send agents to start flirting with Al-Qaueda? Did they not shelter the chemical mixer for the 1st WTC attack? I believe they did.

    2. There’s a difference between obliterating institutions that “wish to fuck with us” and trying to set up enlightened democracies in backwards countries while we funnel money to corrupt leaders. Most of the money here has been spent on a meaningless exercise in nation-building. We’ve succeeded in toppling the Taliban and the Baathists, and pushing al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan. I’m fine with that result and don’t see the point of democratic crusades.

      Honestly, how many trillion does this war have to cost before it’s no longer worth it? An optimistic $3t / 300m people = $10,000 per person in future taxes.

      1. The ‘democratic crusades’, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, are there to prevent the Taliban and Afghanistan from returning. Given that Al Qaeda draw on ignorant and poor populations, establishing liberal institutions kind of salts the earth for them.

        It’s when you treat the operations as just military that you end up with a greater cost in the end, and higher casualties. If you do this properly, as Petraeus is endeavoring to do, you remove the enemy and eliminate the situation that allows them to flourish.

        Afghanistan is crucially important to prevent the destabilisation fo Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons.

        1. You should save this post so you can repeat it in 5 years.

          1. If you paid attention, my point was that an effective civil-society operation will prevent the need to intervene in the future.

            Although I’m sure you have a strategy for preventing Al Qaeda from regaining 2001-level operational capacity, not to mention securing Pakistani nuclear weapons against formidable Islamist forces within Af-Pak.

            1. Oh, we get your point.

            2. If you paid attention, my point was that an effective civil-society operation will prevent the need to intervene in the future.

              What has transpired in Afghanistan over the last 30 years that leads you to believe this is possible? Do U.S agents possess the skill to achieve this? Do the Afhghans have the will to reboot their culture with your view of civility?

              1. If you look at the areas under US control, that willingness and enthusiasm exists among Afghans for a democratic civil society is fairly evident. The issue is that Afghanistan is divided between two ethnic groups of Pashtuns: Durranis, who are middle class traders and farmers receptive to a civil settlement that stabilises their situation, and Ghilzai, traditional nomadic people sympathetic to the Taliban, and with little interest in civil society. Kabul is filled with the former, while Helmand is more dominated by the Ghilzai. The Durranis, however, are ever-present, including as opium farmers. The task is to enlist them, the majority, and marginalise and demoralise the Ghilzai.

                Not easy, but anti-corruption efforts have shown promise in the provinces already under our control, reducing terror and enhancing stability.

                1. If you look at the areas under US control, that willingness and enthusiasm exists among Afghans for a democratic civil society is fairly evident.

                  HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

                  A country is only truly fucked when its leaders believe their own bullshit.

                  We are truly fucked.

                  1. Well thanks. If you have a real argument, y’know, based on observation, evidence, reason, please feel free to share.

                    I’m basing what I say on looking at the democratic behaviour and polls of Afghans in US-controlled provinces, not the behaviour of those in Kandahar or Helmand. What are you basing your position on?

                    1. Even if it is theoretically possible to put in place education and utilities and such – and I’m not convinced Afghanistan is prepared to accept those – where will the money come from to protect them? And who can we find that’s trustworthy enough to run them well? Hamid Karzai certainly isn’t.

                    2. Viet Nam!!!!!…..Viet Nam you ingnorant slut.

                    3. I think I could program a Wegie-bot by putting in four obscenities {fuck, shit, cunt, slut}, a bucket of exclamation points, and three insulting words {stupid, moronic, ignorant}, +{you} and a few random phrases. That would about cover Wegie’s contribution to the discussion: predictable drivel…

                    4. “”I’m basing what I say on looking at the democratic behaviour and polls of Afghans in US-controlled provinces, not the behaviour of those in Kandahar or Helmand. What are you basing your position on?””

                      So you making an assessment based on part of Afghanistan. The good parts.

                      The reason why the current mission will fail is because it’s based on our idea of what Afghanistan should be. We have made and contiune to make ground in the cities but the people outside of the cities are not interested in a central government. They want to rule their land valley by valley, tribe by tribe. They are not interested in roads. Roads allow their neighboring warlords access to their valley.

                      There is a reason why we are not winning beyond our initial invasion. War doesn’t require winning hearts and minds, nation building does. Once we stop looking at Afghanistan through the eyes of war, and view it as an nation building exercise, the absurdness of our efforts float to the top. How much money should we spend in futile effort to force rural Afghanistan to accept the idea of a national government. Something they don’t want, and make no secret about it.

                    5. 4,000 years of history.

                      And the behaviour of Afghans today.

                      Whether we leave next year or fifty years from now the counrty will quickly disintegrate into the tribal shit hole that it has always been.

                2. If you look at the areas under US control, that willingness and enthusiasm exists among Afghans for a democratic civil society is fairly evident.

                  And as soon as that U.S. control is removed the country will return right back to where it was before we got there.

                  1. Except that certain institutions, such as women’s rights, and central policing, are self-sustaining: they are what prevents backsliding, together with a trained and non-corrupt Afghan military.

                    1. Is this some kind of stand up act that your trying to perfect?

                      Your material is funny as hell but the deliver needs a little work.

                    2. Funny how the areas receptive to liberal democracy match up pretty well to those who accepted the revolutionary struggle under

                      BTW, Iraq and Afghanistan are hugely different countries: the former has a secularized, fairly educated populace with some semblance of economy, both in oil and otherwise. There’s at least a decent argument that its people have the capacity to form a liberal democracy in the mold of post-war Japan and Germany (both, like Iraq, countries that accepted at least some Enlightenment thought and governance before they went batshit insane).

                      In contrast, Afghanistan is a fucked up region that can only peripherally be called a country: its people are woefully ignorant and largely un-receptive and un-knowing of Enlightenment thought, and its economy is non-existant besides the one substance class the government has dedicated itself to eradicating abroad: illegal narcotics. The current UN-designed “central government” is woefully corrupt, ridiculously centralized, and controls little beyond Kabul and a few outlying provinces. NATO and ISAF forces are bowing out like it’s a bad Uwe Boll flick, and the Taliban has been emboldened by our strategy in the region. Our goal in the region shouldn’t be some pie-in-the-sky democracy wet dream; it should have been near-term stability, and prevention of its troubling habit to export terrorists. That is, at least, less metaphysical than our current hopes.

        2. … and if I had wheels, I’d be a wagon.

        3. The ‘democratic crusades’, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, are there to prevent the Taliban and Afghanistan from returning. Given that Al Qaeda draw on ignorant and poor populations, establishing liberal institutions kind of salts the earth for them.

          This is the hubris of progressives.

          The idea that the right “institutions” and “education” can remake a society and its inhabitants into something better.

          Almost never works and yet they keep trying because it will be different this time.

          1. That’s a great point. I can’t understand why so called conservatives have had such a hard-on for these wars. Conservatives don’t even have faith in our government to run our country. How the hell is it supposed to run Afghanistan?

            1. “”Conservatives don’t even have faith in our government to run our country. How the hell is it supposed to run Afghanistan?””

              That’s funny. But right now they don’t because the opposite party is in power. They are covering their hard-ons until a true leader takes office.

            2. It isn’t supposed to ‘run’ Afghanistan: it’s supposed to set up an Afghan government that will protect human rights and prevent Al Qaeda returning. Most of the hard part of that has not been establishing central control – Petraeus persuaded Karzai to allow localities to draft their own local police forces merely registered with Kabul, in order to combat central police brutality and corruption.

              It’s not about ‘running’ anything – it’s about enabling the Afghans to govern themselves, locally, federally and nationally, and doing so in a way that is relatively liberal and forecloses terrorist recruitment and operations in the theatre.

              1. “”federally and nationally, “”

                Much of Afghanistan is not interested in this.

              2. You mean, we’re supposed to run it, ’til they learn how to run it.

          2. Institutions and education CAN remake a society into something better or worse: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc have altered American society by inducing dependency and collectivist impulses.

            Widespread education about the constitution, however, has encouraged the limited maintenance of its classically liberal values in American society.

            What is so different about democratic local councils and women’s rights in Afghanistan?

            1. GoW: In the words of the great thinker Nancy Pelosi:

              “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

              This is nothing short of social engineering. And the examples you cite as being negatively transformational in this country didn’t affect the entire population. Also, it took generations for these institutions to influence a significant part of the citizenry.

              So, genius, how long do you propose we stay in the country to have the effect you’re predicting. Thirty years? Forty? Fifty?

              1. Also, it took generations for these institutions to influence a significant part of the citizenry.

                And they were internally created.

                They would have been rejected long ago if they were imposed during a Com Chinese or Soviet military occupation.

                1. I don’t know about this; following sustained forced atheization of the ‘stans by the USSR, we can safely say that they are pretty stable compared compared to Afghanistan.

        4. It’s when you treat the operations as just military that you end up with a greater cost in the end, and higher casualties. If you do this properly, as Petraeus is endeavoring to do, you remove the enemy and eliminate the situation that allows them to flourish.

          You understand this was started under McKiernan, who was fired for not doing it fast enough, and continued by McCrystal, who was fired for having assclowns for personal aides.

          1. Yes – what particularly impresses me about Petraeus is that he literally wrote the textbook on this kind of civilian-centred strategy.

        5. ” Given that Al Qaeda draw on ignorant and poor populations,….” Just like the Republicans and Democrats.

        6. Yet the presence of US troops in Afghanistan is making the Taliban more popular and powerful as you support a corrupt government and kill innocents by the truckload. They were never in Iraq prior to the invasion. The idea that Al Quaeda draws from the poor and ignorant is almost totally the opposite of the truth, it’s recruits and funders have been rich and well educated. The US presence in Afghanistan has done more to destablize Pakistan than any other factor other than corrupt US-backed coups.

    3. Iraq was a big mistake!

    4. That’s right- the North Koreans, Vietnamese, Saddam Hussein, and the Taliban were all plotting to invade the mainlad USA and “fuck with us.” They wanted to make us into a marxist/islamist/baathist dystopia. Thank god we supported the troops and stopped their dastardly plans!

      And for the record, Al Qaeda HAS reached pre-2001 levels yet again, because our leaders have steadfastly refused to fight them head on.

  2. Good morning reason!

    Lurker, whatever are you doing here? Are you related to Untermensh?

    Good point on the “endless war” mantra. Similar to other things the Leftists say, like “bring the boys home” and such, to make sure the true authoritarians win, of course.

    Oh well, have fun with the thread.

    1. No – related to rctl

      1. No, that is a copycat and no I am unrelated to anybody else here (far as I know).

        1. rctlfy.wordpress.com

          I head spoofs!

          1. Stop the spoofing!

  3. Only reason to go to war is to win it and then let the people of that land We helped freed take hold of the reins. If it works fine and if it doesn’t not our problem. If they re-open to being a terroeist state then we have a bomb or two tha…t can make it a very short war against terrorism.. Don’t bother us and we in turn won’t bother you.All sounds cold I know, but we really don’t have to take any crap from Iraq or Afgahnastan or Iran or North Korea or Venzuela or Cuba or Syria or Sudan and so forth.As for the Mosque idea in NY buuild it and will bomb the Rock in Jerusalem a tit for a tat they might say.

    1. No, the reason to go to war is to transfer money from the taxpayer to those who support the troops.

      Research the top DoD suppliers and their top management.
      You will find that the majority are retired military officers.
      Many of the positions at those contractors require security clearances.
      Many people leaving the military have security clearances.
      Many military contractors are little more than jobs programs for people leaving the military.

      Supporting endless war is white collar welfare.

  4. If not for endless war, pretty young girls will get their noses cut off. Chapman, you gutless coward.

    1. Pretty sure those people mutilate women without the presence of a foreign country. See: Iran.

      1. See also: Sudan; Chad; Ethiopia; Egypt; Mali; Senegal; Saudi Arabia; Jordan; Tanzania; and too many other North African countries to list without developing despair in humanity.

        1. For the domestic lite version, see Buffalo or Dearborn.

          1. Or places where head is free …. like my mouth

            1. http://rctlfy.wordpress.com/20…..you-spoof/

              message for you!

              1. rtcl – your link does not work.

                And same to you!

                1. rctlfy.wordpress.com

                  See me gobble some knobble!

        2. Wow, the list of countries on which we have to wage endless war is itself endless.

          1. It is the white man’s progressive’s burden you know.

        3. Or any sub-Saharan African country.

      2. Still asleep?

        1. Possibly sub-sentient.

      3. The blow-up doll displays her peerless reading skills once more.

        Peerless for misreading, that is.

        God, what an ignorant twit.

        1. If you are of the opinion that the women deserved it then just say so.

          1. No, I am of the opinion that you misinterpretted the comment, you moron.

            Your doing it so often suggests that you read at about a third grade level.

            1. So, if that is not your opinion, are you of the opinion that no woman would be mutilated if the USA were not around?

              1. Godfuckingdammittohelljesuschristonafuckinggrahamcracker, is there no limit to your fucking stupidity.

                Now get a move on or you’ll be late for school. You’ll never be able to understand anything until you learn to read.

                1. Ah, so that one is your opinion. Ever since Jefferson messed with Islam this stuff has been our fault you say? Interesting position.

                  1. Hullo, hullo, is this thing on?

                    Let this be a lesson to everyone, if you’re going to create a fictional internet persona, create one with some brains.

                    Hell, this one’s so motherfucking stupid no one will ever believe it’s real.

                    1. Are you even capable of expressing an opinion on the thread topic? [sarcasm]We are all waiting![/sarcasm]

    2. So… The war stopped pretty girls from getting their noses cut off?

    3. I thought the Time magazine cover was a total non-sequitur. We have to stay there because innocent people are being tortured? And it’s our mission to correct that? If so then there are hundreds of places around the world where people are getting parts of themselves cut off for no good reason, so do we invade and transform all of them?

    4. That pretty young girl lost her nose while we were there protecting her.
      How lucky for her!

    5. I love it how statists take a problem that is occuring while what they want is happening and say “If you don’t do what I want this will happen.”. Denial, the government’s best friend.

  5. And if we expect to afford Social Security, combat crime and terrorism, build and repair highways and bridges, maintain national parks, and all the rest

    Who the fuck expects that?

    1. Also:

      This looming constraint may be a good thing. It should force us to reassess an approach to foreign relations and national security that has not been a thunderous success.

      I have to admire this kind of optimism. Or, I guess “should” is the operative word here.

    2. The American Voter

    3. And if we expect to afford Social Security, combat crime and terrorism, build and repair highways and bridges, maintain national parks, and all the rest

      Who the fuck expects that?

      Not even Chapman. Nothing like the Libertarian arguing a position with “what about our wealth transfers?”

      1. In case it’s escaped your notice, the American public is pretty much overwhelmingly in favor of these things. Articles in the popular press are generally addressed to them, not to libertarians.

        Chapman, might be “almost a libertarian”, but he is first and foremost a journalist in the popular press. The widespread syndication of his columns allows him to sneak quite a bit of libertarianism into them, thus exposing a big part of the country to libertarian ideas. But he must still couch everything he says in language his larger audience understands.

        In this column he is simply trying to tell people that they need to consider some priorities.

        1. This. It still amazes me that many who comment here still don’t understand that, in their day jobs, Chapman and Harsayni definitely are not preaching to the choir.

      2. “Who the fuck expects that?”

        The same people who expect the spanish inquisition.

        1. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  6. Why does Reason hate the Military-Industrial complex?

    1. It’s too complex.

        1. One erect cock

  7. What about the unaffordability of endless head?

    1. Slobber, slurp, ahhhh!

      1. How is this comment related to the blog post? Please respond without mentioning the h word.

        1. I dunno; the issue of endless war always seems to be coming to a HEAD as things always seem to be HEADING in a bad direction. For the life of me, I don’t know how the folks in charge have their HEADS on tight, but that is a flimsy assumption to begin with.

          HEADHEADHEADHEADHEADHEADHEADHEADHEADHEAD

          1. That word looks retarded to me now.

            1. Good! Hopefully rctl see the light.

              1. Papers please?

                1. s

                    1. rtcl – your link does not work.

                      And same to you!

  8. Iraq and Afghanistan … have cost more in real dollars than the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.

    “Real dollars.” What a concept!

      1. ‘Real dollars’? I feel uncomfortable with that. What does Ben Bernanke say ‘real dollars’ are worth? As long as he says they’re OK…

      2. How do we know you aren’t using fake +1’s, Suki?

        1. My +s are made from only the finest, all natural electrons.

    1. +82 (in real +)

  9. Some people can’t give up on the fantasy that they can transform other nations into Little America. Look, just because you were the Risk champion at your fraternity that doesn’t make you a strategic genius. The world is not putty in your hands. These are real human beings, with their own ideas of how they want to live.

    Jeebus, and these fucks have the nerve to call libertarians “utopian”!

    1. I’ve never been able to understand the libertarians as utopians meme. I thought we were the ones willing to accept the world as it is, without trying to correct every injustice in every corner of the world.

      1. I’ve never been able to understand the libertarians as utopians meme.

        It is easier to argue against a straw man than a libertarian.

  10. It is the white man’s progressive’s burden you know.

  11. I tend to think men adopt non-classically liberal ideals to get laid, since it goes against the good-provider/don’t-be-a-p*ssy instinct. So is that why some libertarian guys take the p*ssy pacifist stance, since they can’t bring up their domestic policy views on their date without making them cry?

    1. Repeat after me, libertarians are not pacifist. We don’t believe in nation building. You do understand the difference?

    2. Be aware that those big bad violent protector types that you are attracted to often beat the living shit out of their girlfriends/wives.

      Libertarians are not opposed to all violence. Reacting to violence with violence is perfectly justified. The initiation of violence is not.

      Do you see the difference?

    3. Lisa, a man would feign agreement with Obamacare to get laid.

      1. Yeah, but i felt dirty the next morning. And not in a good way.

  12. It bothers me to see so many posts talking about what should be done with foreign countries and to know that the posters have never been there to see for themselves. I know from experience that what I have seen and lived through in a foreign country has nothing to do with how that country is described in the American media. It’s as though there are two different places in the world, one the media describes and another I live in. Unless you have actually seen what goes on for yourself, talk to the locals, and live in that society, you are just dependent on sources that are pushing their own agenda, and you are just another mouthpiece for them.

  13. Even with the figures and facts about the costs of mindless war, those dont matter to chickenhawk Neocons and chickenhawk Liberals. The proof is there that these people dont want our way of life, its their country let them have it for god sakes.

  14. Ah, for the good old days of the punitive expedition.

    Somebody pisses you off, you go in, bust up a lot of their stuff, tell them not to piss you off again, and leave.

    If they want nation-building, let them get a good start on it their own selves, and maybe we can pitch in if we have a budget surplus we can’t figure out what to do with.

    1. Not only that but there were the spoils of war.
      Not only do you bust up their stuff, you take a bunch of it home with you when you’re done.
      We don’t do that anymore. Now we go bust up their stuff, go through an election cycle, apologize for the previous administration busting up their stuff, and then offer them a bunch of someone elses’ money.

    2. Amen, brother, amen and Hallelujah.

      It seemed to me that when we embarked on this enterprise that we were getting into this nation building enterprise to buy the support of some domestic liberal constituencies plus some of our allies esp. Canada and France.

      And now that it’s turned into a really hard slog, the Eurotrash are bailing and talking about “America’s war in Afghanistan.” In all fairness, the military contingents of our allies (esp. Canada, again) have done damn well but civilian support is flagging badly as people realize how futile the mission ultimately is.

      If Bush had delivered the foreign policy he campaigned on the Afghan campaign would have been over in a few months.

      Now instead of leaving a severely chastened, weakened and vulnerable Taliban in charge in the Spring of ’02 we get to look forward to a triumphant reemergent Taliban taking control in the Spring of 2012 or whatever date is about six months after whenever we finally realize how pointless this is and leave.

      I’m not sure how many more graves we have to fill before the lesson that if you’re going to commit military power it must be to a worthwhile legitimate objective that will get and, above all, keep widespread support.

    3. “”Somebody pisses you off, you go in, bust up a lot of their stuff, tell them not to piss you off again, and leave.””

      Another Amen

      But what do we expect, the last administration, and republicans spent much effort associating leaving with losing. You don’t want to cut and run do you? That’s loser talk. đŸ˜‰

    4. Somebody pisses you off, you go in, bust up a lot of their stuff, tell them not to piss you off again, and leave.

      If they want nation-building, let them get a good start on it their own selves, and maybe we can pitch in if we have a budget surplus we can’t figure out what to do with.

      +1000000000

  15. Think about all of the highly paid engineers and such who would be unemployed if it weren’t for the need to support endless war.

    What about the families of the weapons’ designers?

    What about the families of the guys who write software for unmanned drones?

    What about the families of the guys who build the grenade launchers?

    What about the families of those people working in the munitions factories?

    1. Fuck ‘Em.

    2. Couldn’t we just have some really, really cool publicly-financed paint ball wars? With like paint ball battleships and stuff.

  16. It used to be that officers would become very wealthy through confiscating the property of those that they defeated.
    Now they become very wealthy by getting highly paid management positions in the Military Industrial Complex in addition to their pensions once they retire.

    In the old days they got wealthy by fleecing those the fought against, now they get wealthy by fleecing those they are supposed to defend.

  17. The problem with these wars is they are secret wars, in the sense that, in order to know what the true agenda is, you must posses a Tops Secret/SCI clearance with a special access need to know, in order to be briefed on what it is the Government is trying to accomplish.

    The public has been handed various cover stories; finding WMDs, bringing democracy to Islamic dictatorships.

    George Bush looked into the camera and lied to the American people about the true purpose of these wars and Barack Obama is continuing the lie.

    I don’t know what the true agenda is myself and neither does the public or the press, but I do recognize a cover story when I hear one.

    1. The secret agenda? War is the health of the state.

      1. And the state is who?

    2. Van, it’s not like WWII was an open book.

      For example it was not until after the war was over that the full extent of our losses at Pearl Harbor and our consequent vulnerability became known.

      It was late 1944 before anyone had much of a concept of battlefield casualities when FDR allowed pictures of dead and wounded marines at Tarawa to be published.

      1. I’m not talking about OPSEC. That obviously should remain secret.

        I’m talking about why are we doing this?

        1. People who work in the Military Industrial Complex make good money, and they vote.
          Perpetual war is white collar welfare.

          1. I work in the Military Industrial Complex.

            1. Would you support withdrawing our troops if it meant losing your source of income?

              1. That’s a non sequiter.

                1. Would you vote for a candidate who vowed to cancel whatever contract it is that you support?

                  Would the contract that you support exist if we didn’t have troops on active duty all over the globe?

                  Don’t you and hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions, owe your employment to the fact that our government is engaged in endless war?

                  1. I don’t owe anything to the government.

                    As an individualist who practices capitalism, I have any number of ways to make money, from trading stock options, to driving a cab.

                    I have been laid off due to contract cancellation many times. I was laid off last October due to a planned deployment being canceled.

                    I can honestly say that I have enjoyed my “unemployed periods” more than my employment. Working in an office sucks along the lines of the movie “Office Space”.

                    Being free to spend your time as you please is wonderful. After one layoff I took care of my Mom while she suffered with Alzheimer’s, during another I drove a cab on the night shift, easily the most fun I’ve ever had on the job.

                    I’ve learned to look forward to layoffs, kind of like the way the character Orr used to practice crash landings in Catch 22.

                    My goal now is to play options trading into a perpetual period of unemployment.

                    1. You are part of the problem as someone who works for the Military Industrial Complex.

                      You have no right at all to comment on a thread about the affordability of endless war if some of that money is going into your pocket.

                      To have any credibility on the issue you must first quit your job.

                      Otherwise you are nothing but a hypocrite.

                    2. Read the post. I am unemployed now.

                      You guys are so confused. I am not against defense spending. I am pointing out that defense strategy and foreign policy is determined in absolute secrecy by a laundry list of politicians and bureaucrats that the public cannot trust.

                    3. Excuse the fuck out of me for reading “I work in the Military Industrial Complex.” as your saying that you are employed and working in the Military Industrial Complex.

                      Since your post said you “work”, and your other post said you have been laid off “many time”, it seemed reasonable to conclude that you were laid off but are working now.

                      Maybe you are unemployed because your communication skills suck donkey balls.

                    4. You need to go back and read the entire thread.

                      Poopy the liberal thought I would be worried at the prospect of a layoff. In his ignorance of defense contracting he did not realize that this is an occupational hazard of defense contracting. You share his ignorance of the real world as well, in addition to being an immature coward who makes post with “potty words” as insults in them.

                    5. I didn’t see poopy say what he does for a living, for all you know he may work for a defense contractor.
                      He was right about you being an arrogant fuck, he hit that one out of the park.

                      You sure presume a lot.
                      Maybe that’s why your unemployed. Nobody likes a wise-ass knowitall.

                    6. You’re a jerk.

                    7. I get paid to determine the facts. It doesn’t matter if I’m liked.

                      You are still missing the fact that programs get canceled for political/budgetary reasons. You also missed that I prefer to be unemployed, and that that is my goal in life.

                      You are still using potty words as well.

                    8. “I get paid to determine the facts.”

                      Poopy never stated his occupation but you were able to determine that it was not in defense.
                      He never stated his political persuasion but you were able to determine he’s a liberal.
                      From a dozen sentences you determined the entire breadth of both his and my knowledge on all subjects.

                      All presumptions.

                      You say you are paid to determine the facts.
                      I can see why you’re unemployed.

                    9. Specious arguments.

                    10. You present specious arguments instead of facts.
                      I think that qualifies you as a dumbass.

                      An unemployed dumbass.

                      A confused unemployed dumbass.

                      Let me clarify something for you.
                      When your boss says “Get out of here you incompetent fuck! I paid you for facts and you gave me this garbage! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”, that’s not called being laid off.

                      You were fired.

                    11. Imagine whatever you like in your dreamworld. You are now engaging in the argument from schizophrenia.

                      Your opinion means nothing.

                    12. Oh yeah, and you’re a fuckhead.

        2. What happens when someone wants to terminate a weapons program?
          The congress critter whose constituents will be affected runs to the rescue.
          Everyone wants to cut back the military, but that always means cutting that program, not this one.
          That’s why Congress can have single digit approval numbers, yet most of them keep their job.
          The stupid voter disapproves of all the congress critters but their own.

          We’re fucked.

          1. You are off topic.

            My point is there has been a bipartisan effort to conduct foreign policy entirely in the “black world” and to never inform the public in a responsible manner about the true reasons for doing anything.

            Kind of disturbing in a Republic, but exactly what you expect in a growing empire.

            1. You ask why we engage in perpetual conflict.
              Why don’t we just kick some ass and then leave?
              Well you don’t make money off of a quick engagement. You need it to be long and drawn out if you’re going to make money off of it.

              Think of it as a jobs program.

              1. You are mistaken.

                I did not ask those questions.

    3. What if what they are trying to accomplish is a never ending conflict that generates all kinds of money for retired military brass working in management in the Military Industrial Complex, and to ensure that more positions will be open when the current military brass retires?

      What if the purpose is to keep money flowing from the Military Industrial Complex into the campaign coffers of political incumbents?

      What if the purpose is to keep people like you employed, fat, dumb, happy, and voting for the representative who secured the contract that puts food on your table?

      How would the public react?

      Wouldn’t you want to keep that a secret if that was your basis for sending young men to their death?

      1. I don’t see how you could know what they are doing since you have not been “read in.”

        Your ideas are not plausible in any case. Neoconservatives are more ambitious than you realize.

        1. I don’t see how you could know what they are doing since you have not been “read in.”

          You know this how?

          I get the impression that you are one who judges ideas not by their merit, but by the source.
          If someone who you respected, Kieth Olbermann perhaps, said what I just said you wouldn’t be so quick to shoot it down.

          Whatever. I also get the impression that you already have an answer to your query and you’re looking for confirmation, not an answer.

          Good luck!

          1. Who is Kieth Olbermann?

            If you had been read in and you posted here you would be arrested by DOD and sent out to Leavenworth or Quantico for questioning. Heard of wikileaks?

            Your ideas are childish and misinformed. I am talking specific military/diplomatic strategies that the government really has but won’t discuss. You are prattling on about irrelevant nonsense.

            1. In my experience people who throw around the word ‘neoconservative’ tend to be arrogant elitists who adhere to a particular narrative, and are quick to dispense condescension on anyone who deviates from it.

              You did not disappoint.

              I can tell that you are not asking for the purpose of getting an answer, you are asking for the purpose of confirming your answer.

              What is it that you are trying to confirm?

              1. It is called a rhetorical question dipstick.

              2. You are resorting to ad hominem criticism.

                Learn to read and write and think.

                The only topic I am discussing here, and I’m repeating myself now, is that foreign policy and military strategy in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. is determined in absolute secrecy by a small group of individuals from both parties who never reveal the true reasons for being there.

                I don’t expect anyone here to know what the government’s strategy really is, how could they?

                1. Obviously the strategy is not to kick ass and come home, or they would have kicked some ass and come home already.

                  A government cannot effectively govern without a police force. Isn’t the most basic function of government to provide a means of resolving disputes without resorting to violence, usually in the form of courts?
                  How can you have a court system without a police force to drag people in there?

                  So a serious answer to your question is that our military is playing the role of police until the Afghan government can take over the job.
                  Look at Iraq for a moment. Saddam required a police state to keep the peace. The place still hasn’t reached a level of peace compared to under Saddam because the government hasn’t implemented a draconian police force, and it probably won’t.
                  Same idea in Afghanistan.

                  The problem is that there never will be an effective government with courts and police as we know it in that country, so our presence there is pointless.

                  It’s all based on a pipe dream.

                  1. Now you are getting somewhere poop.

                    We can’t withdraw if the goal is creating an Islamic republic, because if we leave, it will last about as long as the government of South Vietnam lasted.

                    About five hundred years ago Machiavelli said that you can’t give a conquered country a republic if they are used to being ruled by a Prince. The only republics that last are those created by the people, through revolution.

                    1. The only republics that last are those created by the people, through revolution.

                      And even those are temporary.
                      Look at this country.
                      With the passage of the 17th Amendment we ceased to be a republic and started down the road to democracy.
                      We’re not more than a generation away from either another revolution or being ruled by a Prince, and I don’t think we have the spirit for a revolution.

                    2. Journalists like to make Machiavelli sound spooky and evil, but he recognized that republics arise from the people and are maintained by the people long before the American revolution.

                  2. Why entertain him?
                    He’s a liberal elitist fucktard who masturbates while watching Madcow on MSNBC.

        2. Neoconservatives are more ambitious than you realize.

        3. Neoconservatives are more ambitious than you realize.

  18. Not enough money? An artificial situation if ever there was, but a sure-to-be-government-approved solution is here…..

    Simply put all social security recipients in uniform and on the battlefield. The plethora of baby boomers will provide cannon fodder at cheaper rates than younger soldiers and attrition will take care of the social security deficit.

    Easy. Why didn’t someone think of that before?

  19. “To sensation I say “Good riddance,” I’m severing this poem at my cortex.”

    That’ll teach it!

    hehehehehe

  20. “To sensation I say …..”

    oops! Wrong site. Sorry!

  21. The whole “spreading democracy” thing is a sham anyway. It was an excuse thought up by think-tanks to justify the endless wars our ruling class needs to stay rich.

    If GWB and BHO really cared about “spreading democracy and human rights,” why are the Bushies such close friends with the Saudi royals?

    Why is Barack targeting Iran, arguably the most democratic (non-occupied) country in the Middle East?

    Why are we supporting governments that are only elected through fraud (Karzai) or police-state measures (Maliki)?

    1. “Why are we supporting governments that are only elected through fraud (Karzai) or police-state measures (Maliki)?”

      Because they most closely resemble our own.

  22. The problem with stopping the wars is identifying a better alternative strategy.

    Let’s just talk about Afghanistan, which most people agree warranted doing something. What was the alternative?

    Do nothing to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a staging area for our enemies? Expel the Taliban and leave, with yearly monitoring to bomb them further back into the stone age anytime the place looks like a safe harbor for terrorists? Install a hand picked totalitarian regime, and ruthlessly crush all opposition?

    Fundamentally, we’re trying to protect ourselves without precipitating a blood bath. I don’t see an easy answer.

    The one thing we might try is to arm the entire country, so that they can defend themselves against the taliban, then support and aid those trying to build a relatively decent country.

    1. Does it really take current troop levels to find a handful of terrorists?

      Terrorists who by the way got their asses kicked in Egypt and Algeria when they tried to start Islamic revolutions those countries, by the people of those countries.

      Now, there might very well be legitimate reasons for being there, but what are they?

    2. We shouldn’t have avoided a “bloodbath” after 9/11. Congress should have declared war on the Taliban, issued letters of Marque against Al Qaeda, and then let loose the full arsenal of American military power.

      Sending in a handful of CIA/Special Forces dudes to work with the a bunch of corrupt warlords WAS NOT the way to go.

      The war should have ended at Tora Bora, and we should have left without bothering to set up a new regime. No attempt to occupy Afghanistan has ever succeeded long-term. But short and brutal punitive strikes have worked wonders there.

  23. Well, Democrats… you have the majority. Use it. Get our troops out. Start Monday, if you want to kick it around over the weekend.

    Wait, what’s that? Obama sent MORE troops to Afghanistan? We’re NOT out of Iraq yet?

    What the fuck’s taking so long?

    BTW, I want all of the above. Get busy.

  24. Have you learned nothing from Keynes, the more money the government spends the better off the economy is. Can you imagine the job loss losing $8 trillion would inflict. The war should be justified only in the fact that it raises the government deficit, which only a market fundamentalist could claim is bad for the economy.

  25. There still have wet Dreams about Empire and New World Order building!

  26. If asked, most American tax payers do not believe that they are personally responsible (on average) for at least $120,000 of nationl debt. Kick-ass is the USA version of international diplomacy. To save money, the State Department should immediately halt its over $3 billion donation to Israel each year. Those funds generate more fighting power to Israel than needed and will “stick in the craw” of every Arab nation in the region. Middle East war will persist until these donations are cancelled.

    1. Right. They’d just love us if only we didn’t help THE JOOOOS.
      FWIW I am also in favor of eliminating the aid.

  27. You know, these non-interventionists would have more credibility if they would just admit they got Iraq wrong. I too thought we couldn’t win there, and that wasn’t true. Stop repeating Glenn Greenwald’s talking points.

  28. Politically correct knee jerk. Rather than address the issue, play a victim card.

    If liberal libertarians are to question the merit of the USA playing world policeman and protector, then Israel is on the table. Cutting off aid to Israel won’t make Arabs love us, but it certainly wouldn’t make them dislike us MORE. It would certainly undercut various terrorist factions allying themselves against the USA based upon that gripe.

    Indeed… in PC thinking, aid to Israel is still largely a no-brainer. “It’s support of democracy in the middle east!” On the other hand, support for non-Jews/PC middle eastern Democracies, such as… say, Georgians? Or Armenians?

    Finally, I’m amused that the same supporters for amnesty for illegals, or “comprehensive reform”, who say that the USA should let everyone who just crosses the border have the benefits of USA citizenship are against us not protecting the world. The only difference between illegals and foreign aid is that the illegals just collect their aid in PERSON!!!

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