Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pretty Cool

Maynard Hill, 1926-2011.


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Friday, June 10, 2011

Maybe the Billions Will Come Home

Retiring Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sees a dim future for NATO. He bluntly stated that many allies do not accept the burdens of a fighting alliance and warned that the American taxpayer may no longer think NATO is worth the investment. Many of us already think that much of the cost American "defense" is a poor investment. I'm happy to think that even Robert Gates recognizes that Americans may rethink military and defense strategy and could easily find NATO is not longer necessary.

Make no mistake about it, NATO's central purpose is irrelevant. The threat of a Soviet attack into Western Europe is gone. The new game in Europe and the world is economic. Tanks will not be rolling through the Fulda Gap. So NATO is left with nothing to do. There was the Balkans bombing that seemed to work, Afghanistan and now the uncertain action in Libya. A mixed record with an all-to-obvious high cost.

NATO was relevant for a while after 9-11 during the "We are all Americans" solidarity that followed those attacks. NATO allies quickly volunteered their forces in a collective defense, joining the US in attacking al-Qaeda and its Afghan hosts, an effort that was largely ignored as the US promptly went to war in Iraq. Afghanistan and the NATO-led war there became the forgotten war.

The US preoccupation with Iraq killed the any momentum and initiative NATO had established in Afghanistan and allowed the various factions and warlords to re-entrench themselves in the altered political landscape after the fall of the Taliban. By the time the US began paying attention again to Afghanistan, the US and its NATO allies were foreign occupiers with little or no credibility for brokering any kind of stable agreement among the warring factions. These days citizens of NATO countries, like Americans, just want the war to end.

If we are lucky, NATO will go the way of the Warsaw Pact. Then we can rethink all those overseas military bases.

I can think of better investments.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

I'll See Your $2 Billion and Raise You $115.8 Billion

A Tea Party leader in Virginia questions federal spending on high-speed rail:
“The federal government’s budget is $1.5 trillion in the red, so how does it make sense for Washington to spend $2 billion on rail and ask Virginia to spend another $400 million?’

He's asking that question waaay too early. Long before questioning $2 billion for infrastructure, the question should be:
“The federal government’s budget is $1.5 trillion in the red, so how does it make sense for Washington to spend $117.8 billion on foreign wars and occupations and ask Virginia to lose more of its daughters and sons?"

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