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Guest Post: Instead of Fixing the U.S. Economy or Creating Jobs for AMERICANS, Obama Will Spend The Money in Afghanistan and Iraq

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America is in the most severe unemployment crisis since – and perhaps including – the Great Depression.

And yet Obama, like Bush, has done virtually nothing to create more jobs. Instead, they both gave trillions to the biggest banks (who are not loaning it out to the little guy) and for waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama is apparently escalating – not ending – the wars. And its not cheap.

According to the White House, the cost of deploying new soldiers to Afghanistan could be $1 million per soldier. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that the Iraq war will cost $3-5 trillion dollars.

As I have previously pointed out, protracted war increases unemployment, shrinks the economy, and causes recession. See this, this and this.

But deficits don’t matter, right? Wrong.

But We Had No Choice … We Had to Fight Those Wars

But – you may say – we had no choice, we had to fight those wars because of 9/11.

Well, top British officials say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change long before 9/11. In fact, they say that regime change was advocated one month after Bush took office:

The chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee in 2001 told investigators Monday that elements of the Bush Administration were pushing for regime change in Iraq in early 2001, months before the 9/11 attacks and two years before President George W. Bush formally announced the Iraq war.

Sir Peter Ricketts, now-Secretary at the Foreign Office, said that US and British officials believed at the time that measures against Iraq were failing: “sanctions, an incentive to lift sanctions if Saddam allowed the United Weapons inspectors to return, and the ‘no fly’ zones over the north and south of the country.”

Ricketts also said that US officials had raised the prospect of regime change in Iraq, asserting that the British weren’t supportive of the idea at the time.

***The head of the British Foreign Office’s Middle East department, Sir William Patey, told the inquiry that his office was aware of regime change talk from some parts of the Bush Administration shortly after they took office in 2001.

“In February 2001 we were aware of these drum beats from Washington and internally we discussed it,” Patey said. “Our policy was to stay away from that.”

The Brits previously revealed that intelligence and purported facts of Iraq’s weapons programs were “fixed around” the pre-set policy of invading Iraq.

It’s not just the Brits.

Former CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its justifications for invading Iraq.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11.

Everyone knew the WMD claims were fake. For example, the number 2 Democrat in the Senate, who was on the Senate intelligence committee, admitted that the Senate intelligence committee knew before the war started that Bush’s public statements about Iraqi WMDs were false. And if the committee knew, then the White House knew as well.

The CIA warned the White House that claims about Iraq’s nuclear ambitions (using forged documents) were false, and yet the White House made those claims anyway.

Cheney was largely responsible for generating fake intelligence about Iraq in order to justify the war. For example:

And see this.

And you may have heard that the Energy Task Force chaired by Cheney prior to 9/11 collected maps of Iraqi oil fields and potential suitors for that oil. But you probably don’t know that a secret document written by the National Security Council on February 3, 2001 directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields”.

In other words, it is difficult to brush off Cheney’s Energy Task Force’s examination of Iraqi oil maps as a harmless comparison of American energy policy with known oil reserves because the N.S.C. explicitly linked the Task Force, oil, and regime change. Indeed, a former senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at the N.S.C. said:

If this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans.

(and see this).

Cheney’s role in getting the U.S. into unnecessary military confrontations is not new. According to former high-level intelligence officer Melvin Goodman, during the Ford administration, Cheney orchestrated phony intelligence for the Congress in order to get an endorsement for covert arms shipments to anti-government forces in Angola.

And in the 1970′s, Cheney was instrumental in generating fake intelligence exaggerating the Soviet threat in order to undermine coexistence between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which conveniently justified huge amounts of cold war spending. See also this. This scheme foreshadowed Mr. Cheney’s role in generating fake intelligence in Iraq by 30 years.

And Cheney was the guy who directed all counter-terrorism activities in 2001 and who directed the U.S. response on 9/11, accidentally allowing hijacked planes to fly all over the place, and perhaps – as implied by Secretary of Transportation Norm Minetta – to slam into the Pentagon (confirmed here). Heck of a job, Dick …

The government also apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this).

But you don’t even have to even think about all of the complex facts discussed above. It’s really simple: when asked to specify exactly why we are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama cannot really explain why we are still there.

The Wars Are Unnecessary and Are Killing the Economy

Bottom line: The wars are unnecessary, and they are draining resources which could be used to reduce unemployment and help the economy.

Note: This is not a Republican versus Democratic issue.  For example, Bill Clinton signed the  Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, calling for regime change in Iraq.  And Obama is escalating wars started by the previous administration.

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70 comments

  1. chad

    sounds like a typical anti-bush/cheney rant.

    It’s a shame it showed up here. I doubt Yves approved this, maybe this is a guest of a guest’s post?

    1. Gary Anderson

      As I posted below, the Taliban went to Texas in 1997 and refused to build a pipeline to the Caspian Sea. So, this is motive for 9/11.

      The neocons had motive, and they had a desire for 9/11 as posted on their official PNAC website in 2000. These are murderers and criminals, and they deserve a rant and more. The government must prosecute or our nation is doomed.

      Prosecute Geithner for economic crimes under Obama too.

    2. mmckinl

      Chad Says: “sounds like a typical anti-bush/cheney rant.”

      I say: If the shoe fits wear it. Is there anything in this post that you can refute? Thought Not.

      Fact of the matter is that Dubya will go down as by far the worst president in the history of the United States …

      And for his part Obama will not fair much better as he is running Bush’s third term, just with better PR …

    3. Gerard Pierce

      “sounds like a typical anti-bush/cheney rant”.

      That’s out of order. In the real world, the first step is to figure out whether what is said in the article is TRUE.

      Then step two is to declare that it was Bush /Cheney so it doesn’t matter – The commmander is the commander. No matter how many people he kills it’s OK. And when he robs us blind, it’s still OK because he’s the “decider”.

      And by the way, now that we have a ‘flaming liberal’ in the white house, how come so little has changed?

    1. carl h

      Tweed didn’t say that, he was just a politician with a great machine. Tweed may have exploited the working class, but he did it while acting their friend and getting them drunk on election day.

      I believe that quote is from Jay Gould or some other robber baron of the Gilded Age. Totally different class of scoundrel.

      1. Cullpepper

        Shucks, it’s attributed to him all over the net. I’ll have to try a actual book next time. Thanks.

        1. Gould Quote

          During the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886 Jay Gould hired strikebreakers; according to labor unionists, he said at the time,

          “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.”

  2. maff

    @chad

    sorry but I didn’t quite catch which points you consider to be factually incorrect.

    out of interest, did you vote for Bush/Cheney?

    1. chad

      I wasn’t saying anything was factually correct or incorrect just that we’ve heard it all before.

      No, I didn’t vote for Bush, actually, voting for Obama was the first time I’ve ever cast a vote. I’m don’t know if I’d say I was Republican but I’m definitely not a Democrat. I liked what Obama pushed in his campaign so he got my vote, simple as that.

  3. David Mercanus

    Strange that you write this post before knowing what Obama announces. And I’m basically in agreement if any new large scale infusion of troops is committed.

    But I think this post is ridiculous on this day. Is this really good blogging or journalistic practice?

    1. Praedor Atrebates

      We simply CANNOT AFFORD THE WARS. If it had ONLY been Afghanistan all wouldn’t be in quite the bad state it is but the facts are the facts.

      After bailing out Goldman-Sachs, BoA, and all the other criminal organizations with trillions, after spending trillions on one totally botched and lost war (Afghanistan) and spending trillions on a totally illegal and botched war (Iraq), there is nothing left for real human being citizens. Obama is a guaranteed one-termer. He screwed the pooch within seconds of taking office (Geithner, Summers, keeping Bernanke, selecting Rahm Emmanuel for his staff, etc, etc). He is simply digging his hole deeper and deeper as fast as he can.

      By the way, I am an Iraq veteran.

      1. Hal

        Yeah it’s amazing how the media is all worried to death about universal health care “busting the budget” but never worried the slightest bit about the cost when we started the two stupid wars we either lost or are in the process of losing.

  4. Andy Lux

    Yves, thank you very much for George Washington’s contributions on this site. George Washington, thank you for your work. It is important for lines to be drawn between our economic decline and permanent state of war.

  5. Francois T

    “sounds like a typical anti-Bush/Cheney rant”

    What would it take to have you elevate a “rant” to a “legitimate disagreement”?

    A nuclear holocaust?

    Sounds like a typical republicannot knee-jerk reaction.

  6. John Galt

    I guess the author forgot about The Iraqi Liberation Act that was signed by Bill Clinton in 1998???

    Sounds like “Regime Change” was talked about long before Bush was ever President.

  7. John Maynard Keynes

    David Mercanus,

    Today Obama appeared before the press with the PM of India and, in response to a reporter’s question, that he will “finish the job in Afghanistan.”

    The McLatchey newspapers, which have done execellent reporting on this mess since 2001, reported today that anonymous white House sources are saying Obama will announce he will send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

    The annoucement is expected on December 1.

    That is why this post makes perfect sense today.

    1. I'm YO fat momma

      C’mon, leave me outa this! Or you’re grounded and you ain’t gettin’ no mo oxycontin.

      YFM

  8. WestWright

    When did George Washington become a raving lefty liar, jeez. NakedCapitalism is a misnomer. Next you’ll blame Bush for yo fat momma and your pukey job!

  9. Andy Lux

    What job are we finishing? What is the goal? Why are we there? Why are these questions not screamed everyday?

    1. Hal

      Why? Because the US is a rapidly declining power beset by confusion and dissent, with an angry population not knowing what to do, and a media that spreads lies and nonsense on a regular basis. Congress stalemated, going around in circles, a President scared of his shadow and the opposition, etc., etc.

    2. asphaltjesus

      >What job are we finishing?
      If you can’t be bothered to read about it, watch ‘Charlie Wilson’s War.’ Then imagine that the groups ol’ Charlie funded were abandoned well armed, battle-hardened for generations, somewhat funded (opium anyone?), and mad as hell when the Cold War was declared ‘over’ and they were of no interest to anyone.

      This is very basic history and well documented. There is no excuse for nearly every American to understand this.

      >Why are we there?
      The reason we *should* be there is to improve economic/social conditions such that the region’s hostile forces become irrelevant.

      If the Administration is treating it like a nation-building exercise, then they are ignoring the long history of every empire builder that ever tried to occupy the region. Hopefully, this is not the situation, but it’s impossible to know.

      For you and the author of the op-ed, maintaining a simplistic view of ‘war is evil’ does no one any good in this situation.

      There are bad people everywhere and some of them kill their followers and innocents to further expand their political/economic power. You can’t just pretend they don’t exist or ignore them. History clearly shows this doesn’t work. At all.

      No wonder the U.S. is such a mess right now.

  10. Allen C

    It was a costly mistake in terms of lives and money. Why are we in Afghanistan? Weren’t the Russians in there? Seems like another past, distant war.

    Why not keep some intell on the ground and take pot shots at any significant formation. A farmer knows that he/she is unable to kill every pest. You have to keep them from getting out of hand. We elect these fools with little real life accomplishment attempting to solve problems way beyond their capacity.

  11. Blurtman

    Bush’s first Treasury Secretary said the same, that they were intent on invading Iraq from the first days that Bush took office. That seems to be a fact.

  12. adg

    @”Instead, they both gave trillions to the biggest banks (who are not loaning it out to the little guy)”

    Bailing out banks wasn’t for the sake of giving more credits to unemployed ex-autoworkers so they could buy one more huge house. It was because without it you would not have any banks. It was for evading total bankruptcy (or moving it a little bit into the future – we will see). Without bailout US banks were deep underwater (because they simply lost huge amounts of depositors money while speculating in RE markets). With bailout banks can simply barely stay afloat. There’s no room for another mad credit expansion.

    And all this naive nationalism. “Jobs for AMERICANS” – you forgot to add “hard working”… oh, well …, they no longer work but surely they are “decent” and believe in God.

    Regarding Iraq/Afganistan. Wake up! It’s about oil. There’s no too big price for being still able to pay for oil in DOLLARS! From this perspective Iraq is obvious, Afganistan is another step in effort to surround Iran.

    Best regards

    1. Fluffy

      The bankers who orchestrated this crisis needed jail time, not bailouts.

      I remember a time when businessmen (and women)at least said that they cared about what happened in their country, and admitted to some moral imperatives beyond just making a profit.

      That era seems long ago now, and there are way too many trolls on this blog who seem OK with dismissing any sense of obligation of the better off towards the rest of their fellow citizens as “naive”.

      Don’t the psychopaths always describe their victims as “naive” and “asking for it” when they’re eventually collared?

      1. adg

        “The bankers who orchestrated this crisis needed jail time, not bailouts.”
        I agree on jailing bankers. But what about banks?

        “businessmen (and women)at least said that they cared about what happened in their country, and admitted to some moral imperatives”
        And they usually did not care what outrageous things the did abroad to make their profits. Sweat shops, children labor. But star spangled banner at least looked pretty…
        I must admit I think what is happening with US recently introduces some justice into the global system.

        “who seem OK with dismissing any sense of obligation of the better off towards the rest of their fellow citizens as “naive”.”
        I am not saying that. I am one of this type that average “decent hard-working American” would call evil “socialist”. I am saying that American view of the world, of the economy and politics is naive. Now simply all this bs about dropping down wealth, promoting homeownership, putting free entrepreneurship above all is turning against you. And you guys still believe that the only problem is that “evil bankers” don’t want to lend and Iraq war is a distant one (is anything outside North America not distant for average Joe Sixpack?).

        1. Skippy

          So true! Old acquaintances non plume was as a bone man, ghost in the machine. He was telling me back during the lemming migration from Cali to Colorado, how in an elevator a woman recognized him and asked if her job security was in jeopardy. She had seen him 6mo back at her old employ only to see the company striped and needed to move to CO to re-employ. Well with a sigh of disdain he responded that she might want to be flexible in the near term.

          Skippy…capitalisam the job that loves you back!

    2. roly

      If the existing banks disappear, new ones will take their place. If the people starve, now that’s a serious problem.

      Obama had his priorities backwards. He is 100% responsible for his actions and decisions. By their fruits ye shall know them.

  13. Kevin de Bruxelles

    It is so obvious that the Iraq and Afghani adventures were just a continuation of The Great Game of securing access to future energy resources and that the reason given for the invasions at the time was just “noble” lies for the masses. I don’t think any intelligent people question this anymore. After all, anyone who took the threat of radical Islam seriously after 9/11 would have pushed for an invasion of Saudi Arabia to knock the Wahhabi sect out of power. I mean after Japan attacked us we didn’t exactly go and invade Korea instead. The reality is that Al Qaida is just a thinly guised division of Saudi intelligence. Fighting terrorists on the retail level in Iraq and Afghanistan is such an obvious losing proposition when it would be so easy to wipe them out on the wholesale level in Saudi Arabia. No intelligent person tries to kill wasps one by one; they go right in and destroy the nest. But instead Wahhabi madrassas continue to pump out their lethal product.

    Of course the party line is that Al Qaida is really trying to overthrow the Saudi government, but if this were true, why is it that they can knock over twin towers in the US but so far they have failed miserably in every attack they launched in SA and failed to interdict even one barrel of oil from leaving SA? The only thing they have achieved with their domestic attacks is making the Saudi security forces look good – which believe me is not easily accomplished.

    And let’s not fool ourselves though; these wars always were and continue to be very bipartisan — among the politicians at least. I still kick myself for being stupid enough to vote for someone in 2004 who supported the war in Iraq; John Kerry. All I can say is never again.

    The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan will continue. The interesting thing to me will be to see the reaction on the left to the coming announcement of an Afghani surge-lite (Obama always has to hedge after all). My theory is that Obama was brought in to give the left side of the political spectrum a turn at “owning” many of the elite’s favoured policies. So far this seems to have worked on deficit spending and pumping Wall Street; and I have my fears about social security.

  14. gruntled

    If Obama escalates the Afghanistan war, he will be a one-and-done president. Maybe he doesn’t care, but millions of idealistic young people who registered and then turned out to vote for him will never forgive him. Neither will old fogies like me who have begun to suspect he might be a naked emperor.

    1. adg

      @gruntled
      “If Obama escalates the Afghanistan war, he will be a one-and-done president.”
      G.W. Bush started two wars, destroyed your economy, dismantled civil liberties, legalised torture and still was reelected.
      Obama will introduce health care reform, try to win the more just one of the two Iraq, Afganistan wars and will be send home. Looks nice.

      1. gruntled

        GW delivered on what he’d promised to his constituency. Obama has been all hat no cattle so far. In fact, while he campaigned on ending the wars, he’s escalating one of them and will probably never end the other. The health care so far is a dream, and he hasn’t shown the backbone to really support the public option. A wishy washy, wimpy performance that won’t get him too far.

        1. David

          To be honest, Obama never said he would wind down the Iraq war, as far as I can remember. My definite impression after his debate with McCain is that he would move the troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, and that’s just what he is doing. All the “peace” imagery was supplied by his followers, and he didn’t bother to contradict them very loudly.

          Hillary was more likely to end wars than Obama.

  15. S Brennan

    There are 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Obama plans to send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan bringing the total to 102,000 US troops. Barack Obama has called this “a war of necessity”. The U.S. Army’s estimates that Afghanistan would require about 600,000 US troops. Putting aside whether you support, or don’t support Obama’s expansion of the Af-Pak war, if he thinks this is “a war of necessity” shouldn’t we fight it as one? Leaving aside that we have seen the “escalation” pony earlier in our lives, shouldn’t we remember since Alexander’s time [~350 B C], empires have marched in and tattered countries have straggled out of the mountains of south Asia.

    In every area that he has focused this administration, Obama has created future disaster.

    Obama is Bush’s third term…we’ve seen this movie before, why wait, impeach now.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/79380.html

    1. adg

      Isn’t it promised job creation? You know, if u volunteer you at least have health care coverage for your family and some income.

  16. linda in chicago

    Obama campaigned on the promise to take on Afghanistan.
    Why? Candidates who aren’t warlike don’t get elected these days. However, I wish that this had been one of those campaign promises that he had broken.

  17. ronald

    Nothing has changed since 1960′s with the Vietnam War only the names of far of locations that American’s are sent to die. The lesson is never learned!

  18. MinnItMan

    I am a former activist Republican who voted for President Obama for complicated reasons, as well as for the simple reason as his picking Sarah Palin.

    My take is that GeoWash is a peculiar right winger of the antiwar.com variety, meaning they despise all thing Republican – more than leftist clap-trap. They are very difficult people to get along with (frequently over-bearing know-it-alls that would make a Gringrich, whom they especially despise, blush). To be fair, I think his post here is unusually off the chain.

    One thing that seems to get lost, however, is that Obama is a pretty close decendant of Howard Dean who thought Afghanistan, in particular, was the right war at the right time. Look up Gov. Dean’s views on Afghanistan in 2004. The only reason these don’t seem important today, is that nobody thought they were important then. Or, that this was the one area where he was pure posture.

    Gov. Bush sealed my vote (that is, voting for him, as opposed to abstaining) when he derided nation-building. I do think 9-11 changed the calculation on nation-building, however. I have a hard time believing that the broad strokes of policy would have been much different with a Pres. Gore, post 9-11. 8 years later, however …

    All this said, it’s not obvious what President Obama should do. On the other hand, Democrats argued explicitly that 1) what Pres. Bush did was obviously wrong; and/or 2) obviously corrupt; and/or 3) obviously inept. They should have some pretty good alternatives at this point.

    I really wish President Obama well. I am sick of partisan yahoos (more Republicans for my part, but similarly-situated post-partisan Democrats could benefit from some soul-searching as well).

    My antiwar.com rightwinger friends think he is being steered very wrong by Gen. McCrystal.

    I wish I were amused by how deeply imbedded know-it-all-ism was with Americans, but it mostly makes me depressed.

  19. Vinny G.

    It’s a pitty we’re wasting so much money borrowed from China in Iraq and Afghanistan, when we could instead try to preemptively bail out the health insurance companies in case this health insurance bill passes (unlikely) with a public option in it.

    We need to plan our bailouts more proactively…

    Vinny

    1. Mickey, Akron, Ohio

      Vinny,

      “It’s a pity we’re wasting so much money borrowed from China in Iraq and Afghanistan…”

      The Chinese and Asians in general require “STABILITY” in Afghanistan so as to complete/operate the pipelines for oil and gas from the Central Asian Republics that will route through it to them. But for historical reasons the Chinese cannot put their troops in Afghanistan. In effect, China is “renting” the US military, paying for it indirectly by purchasing our debt. Doing so will enable it to secure its growing energy needs without having to “compete” directly with the WEST in the Middle East.

  20. Gary Anderson

    The Taliban went to Texas in 1997. They refused to build the Unocal pipeline to daddy Bush and Halliburton investments in the Caspian Sea. This is the motive for 9/11. If you don’t think that Bush/Cheney had something to do with 9/11 you don’t understand history.

  21. Matt Franko

    The $1m per soldier will add that amount to GDP as the funds will be spent within the US system.

    Deficits DONT matter (in this environment).

    Time to move on to the OBAMA admin. policies…Bush/Cheney not in office anymore.

    1. tax the rich, go negative

      Opportunity costs foreign to your thinking?

      Killing Afghanis is the best use of deficit money? Maybe some spending that did not risk lives would perhaps be better advised?
      I forget…how’d the Vietnam War deficits work out? say five or six years after that War ended?
      Oh yeah…Reagan rode to power promising to get tough on inflation….blamed upon workers’ greedy demands, not the need to pay the War bills from Vietnam.

      I’m sure 2016 will be a fine year for the Republicans….

  22. Hugh

    Whatever policy reason we had for being in Afghanistan post 9/11 ended within months of our arrival. 8 years on we have an army but not a policy to explain its presence there. Strategy follows policy not the other way around. So all of this talk about strategy reviews, etc. misses the point. In the absence of a policy, no strategy can be successful.

    Two other thoughts are pertinent here. First, you can not impose nation building on another country. Even in the best of scenarios with the cooperation of the population it is a generational process, and we quite obviously don’t have the Afghans’ cooperation. Second, whether now or in 20 years we will leave Afghanistan, but the Afghans will still be there. This simple fact explains why almost all occupations fail and why so many insurgencies succeed. All they have to do is outlast us, and it is in the nature of things (because they live there) that they will outlast us.

    It is another failure of our elites that they can no longer enunciate and execute a policy. It all stumbling and bumbling, going through the motions but with no real thought or understanding of how it’s done. The clowns have taken over the circus, the inmates the asylum.

  23. Jojo

    Many people (including myself) who voted for Obama did so because we believed that he would withdraw the troops from Iraq & Afghanistan (wasn’t that one of his campaign promises?). We DID NOT vote him in to “finish the job”, something that no foreign power has ever done in Afghanistan anyway.

    I’m sure there are a lot of considerations that are not public knowledge related to what to do about Afghanistan.

    But I think one consideration that the Obama administration is unwilling to face at this time is the massive influx of weapon trained troops coming home to a land of no jobs. The unemployment rate would go up and the dissatisfaction number would rise further. He can’t afford to have this happen prior to [at least] the 2010 midterm elections.

    1. David

      A very good point. These troops will be “stop-lossed” at least until Obama tries for reelection in 2012, or shortly before so that he can get credit for bringing the boys (and girls) home but we don’t see just how much they have become misfits in our society, due to their wartime experiences.

  24. Vinny G.

    This whole idea of starting wars in order to push democracy and do nation building in foreign lands in only useful for pointing out America’s stupidity and arrogance (and, as the proverb goes, the stupid is not stupid enough without being arrogant too).

    I live half year in the US and the other half in Europe (mostly Greece). Let me tell you, my friends, there are parts of Greece that are about as backward and traditional as Afghanistan. People there have been living like that for hundreds and hundreds of years, they like their lifestyle very much, and all American hubris and Halliburton-style “nation-building” are unlikely to convince (or force) them to ever change. Perhaps 40 years ago, when America was seen as a force for good they may have considered, but now, forget it. They see our decadence, our rampant social injustice, our military impotence, our greed, our addiction to drugs and violence, our ignorance, and our miserable lifestyles, and want no part of it.

    America simply cannot understand that some people just aren’t willing to trade their stable families, relaxed yet secure work environment, healthy diets, and true sense of community for what America can offer them, namely, MacDonalds, inexistent family values, no sense of community, and a credit card from Citi carrying a 35% interest rate.

    Vinny

        1. tax the rich, go negative

          Bring back “Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous”, on Fox.
          Focus on the top echelon of US Bankers….

  25. ^WizeUp

    Anyone who complains of posts like this on an economics blog has tunnel vision.

    None of this stuff exists in a vacuum, and as a matter of fact, the wars, financial crimes, and other behaviors are all, gasp, related. Surprised? Really?

    Go read the real economic history behind WWII. Bankers and corporations financed and provided goods and technical assistance to Hitler and Stalin. Once you’ve done that keep reading and going back in history, as long as you would care to or can stand, whichever comes first. It will be the same old story.

    This stuff doesn’t just “happen,” it is made to happen.

    1. Skippy

      Precisely, I still kick myself in the backside for not being born before WWII, I could have invested in De Beers!

      Imagine the gall and power one gets from telling both the Axis and the Allies to get stuffed if they don’t like you selling to the other side, ummm apartheid embargo anyone?

      Skippy…wish I could export the chill I’m having here on the beach, to all on the planet and free of charge too.

      1. Vinny G.

        Skippy, can you forward some of that beach chill toward Chicago? This town is becoming more unbearable by the day…

        Vinny

  26. eh

    Personally, I don’t see how ‘terrorists’ (is that the same thing as the Taliban?) way the hell over in Afghanistan, even millions of them, are a problem for the US. Regarding 9/11, it’s the ones we let in here who were (and are — paging Major Hasan) the problem. So maybe someone should write him a letter and ask him to explain that.

  27. Greg Morain

    The “war” is not against Afghanistan, Iraq, Drugs or The Taliban. No, not al Qaida either. They were our allies against the Russians in the ’80s. This war is against YOU. It’s top vs bottom and you are not the top. Thousands of $ billions for the “War on… Cause du Jour” and a paltry few billion spent addressing the needs of the American people. Like the post said. It is a republican or democrat issue. They both put us where we are and are both going to continue to exploit the only resource left in America; YOU. 3rd party anyone?

  28. tax the rich, go negative

    Feds ought to pay negative interest on bank reserves “on deposit” with them. Haven’t heard how the Swedish try on that has worked out, either good or bad….why would that be?

    Tax 90% of all income over three million to pay for the “defense” spending (never mind the occasional war). Tax capital itself if you really want to pay the bills fast: the US Gov has unlimited power, you know. But they pretend they don’t, when it’s time to help the poorest & sickest. Contrast the treatment for oil arms banking & the law enforcement/prison “industries”….

  29. ian

    Bush. Obama. Do you *really* think it matters? Or that it ever did?

    The financial sector purchased the government when Reagan was elected. Each president since has been little more than a figurehead with limited powers.

    The same wars for oil are being fought. The same financial figures are in power (Bernanke, et. al.). How much more evidence of electoral irrelevance do you need?

    The conservative liberal “debate” stirred up by the media is a con job for the rubes. A ruse designed to keep us fighting each other lest we look to what those men behind the curtain are doing, like looting the world’s treasuries.

  30. Jojo

    November 25, 2009
    Afghanistan, November, 2009

    President Barack Obama recently announced that he was determined to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, and aides signaled to allies that he would send as many as 25,000 to 30,000 additional American troops there. Obama will formally announce his decision in a national address at 8 p.m. Tuesday from the Military Academy at West Point. As casualties mount on both sides, 2009 is shaping up to be the deadliest year yet for coalition troops – twice as deadly as 2008. American and Afghan officials have been encouraged by the recent rise of independent anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan, even though their emergence is recent and supporting them raises fears of the consequences of arming and training Islamic militants. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (42 photos total)

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/11/afghanistan_november_2009.html

  31. Mickey, Akron, Ohio

    Bottom line: The wars are unnecessary, and they are draining resources which could be used to reduce unemployment and help the economy.

    Would the monies/resources “saved” be used to address unemployment and facilitate recovery? The assumption is that the monies not borrowed for Iraq and Afghanistan could still be borrowed to reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy. Is this true?

    The Chinese, Japanese, and Asia in general have much to gain from STABILITY, or some semblance of it, in both Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan – guaranteed supplies of oil at stable prices. Do they have as much to gain from the US reducing unemployment or “fixing” its economy if doing so threatens these supplies at such prices? We could argue this ad infinitum, particularly with regard to whether the US presence makes for stabilty or instability in either country, but my point is that foreign policy is inextricably linked to domestic policy and vice versa. The article falsely juxtaposes the debate as somehow separate when they are two sides of the same coin.

    Domestic ENERGY policy has driven US foreign policy in the Middle East since 1973, if not earlier. And as the vast oil and gas reserves of Central Asia become available it will increasingly focus on this region of the world as well. So long as the US itself – Americans – remains addicted to oil foreign policy will remain much the same irrespective of who – democrat or republican – controls the government.

    In turn, foreign policy imposes constraints on domestic policy. Monies targeted to reduce unemployemnt or facilitate economic recovery are short term and will do little to cure US of our addiction to oil. If the US withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan and energy supplies are disrupted, will the price of oil go up or down? If it spikes, wouldn’t unemployment increase and economic recovery worldwide become more problematical? Would the monies targeted have their intended effect or the opposite?

    Bottom line: We’re stuck! So long as the US/global economy remains dependent on energy supplies from this region of the world, US troops will be “rented” to prevent these supplies’ disruption. And so long as prices remain at approx $3 a gallon, research/development of renewable energy sources will languish and remain uncompetitive. Left to market forces alone, US energy companies have little incentive to wean US off of oil in the short term. And in the long-term these same companies are positioning themselves to sell renewable energy forms back to US. The political muscle/leadership to break this addictive behavior and its tragic consequences for the earth and its peoples has yet to materialize in this country because the change required is CULTURAL. The Cadillac may be in the ditch, but most Americans still want to own/drive one.

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