Thursday, January 14, 2010

#196 Obama's GPA Slipping into AfPak Hell

Sure enough, the Associated Press reported yesterday that the President will request $33 billion on top of the already bloated $708 billion "Defense" Department budget for this year. To be wasted on the wasteland at right. After all, he's got to pay for the American troops to be wasted there as well. When will we put it plainly to the mothers of the sons and daughters who will go there to die, that they are throwing away their lives on a lost cause and a lost people? For, as I've said ad nauseum, the un-winnable "hearts and minds" populating these infernal wastes are as irredeemably bleak as the landscape.

Moreover, the Insurgents/Militants/OppositionForces--call them what you will-- amongst those benighted people can hold out forever in that blighted land. And here's the irony: Obama's own men in the field know that ... and have spoken thus. But more of that later.

First, let's follow the money. What's maddening is that the Commander and Chief's cavalry is already out of the barn. After three months of scholarly deliberation, he nonetheless made the retro Bush/Cheney decision to "surge"--how I do hate that lame euphemism--for the fatal second and thus irretrievable time. Congress paid for the first one last March without much of a kerfuffle, because it seemed to go along reasonably with Obama's campaign-promised intentions to clean up the former administration's mess and "re-deploy" from Iraq to Afghanistan--thus to re-focus on rooting out the 9/11 culprits, which, he said, should have been our sole purpose in being over there all along. But as of his November decision, AfPak is now an all-out WAR. Against any and all comers.

At a price tag of $33 billion. Not to mention the tally of thousands upon thousands of human lives. But the money drain is "costing" human lives here at home too. We're not over the Great Recession yet. Folks without jobs or health care will be walking the streets for the foreseeable future. And here we are peremptorily dumping into the AfPak money-pit what can only be a down-payment of billions on the eventual trillions that will be budgeted the next few years--and then only that much only if Obama's plans succeed! Much, much more if they don't.

Here are some dry but dire economic details. Excessive "defense" spending obviously drains the economy in general at a time when we can least afford it. But it's particularly hard on the JOB MARKET--that segment of the Economy that will take the longest to recover. This is just sheer anguish, moment-to-moment panic and despair, on the part of a good 20% of our fellow Americans right now. (Personal example: my ex-girlfriend is now over a year out of work; thus out of unemployment compensation; thus out of the means to afford COBRA ... or any health care at all.) And prodigal defense spending only exacerbates the problem, according to standard economic models developed by CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research) just after Obama announced the second AfPak escalation:
In these models, any government measure that interferes with market outcomes almost by definition reduces efficiency, leading to less economic growth fewer jobs.... For example, defense spending means that the government is pulling away resources from the uses determined by the market and instead using them to buy weapons and supplies and to pay for soldiers and other military personnel. In standard economic models, defense spending is a direct drain on the economy, reducing efficiency, slowing growth, and costing jobs. (CEPR 11/10/09 here)
In fact, the job losses from our Middle-East misadventurism are projected to run into the millions, over and above the millions already out of work. This will assuredly happen unless Obama, who Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already said is on his own when it's time to defend the increased funding, or Congress itself does the right thing and Constitutionally puts an end to it. Fat chance. (more)

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