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The National Debt and the Mystifying Conundrum

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Currently, for every dollar our federal government spends it must borrow 40 cents. Much like any household, business, or corporation this is unsustainable, even for the U.S. If this continues for much longer, our great country as we know it will disappear, and the Grand Experiment for liberty and justice for all that has lasted so long will end and be relegated to the dustbin of history.

But is the search for at least a partial, if not major, solution to the problem a conundrum? Well, not really. As our nation struggles with the National Debt, the most obvious answer eludes our politicians of every stripe in Washington because of their unholy alliance with the defense industry and protecting jobs in their respective states. They embrace Keynesian economics that fuels the defense industry. At best, Keynesian economics is myopic and basically states that the federal government should spend money to create jobs. This may work in the short term if those jobs create something useful like bridges, freeways, dams, levees, and sewer systems, that can enhance our commerce or improve or protect our lifestyles. However, when it comes to the defense budget, those conditions do not apply. Why? The answer is rather simple. The defense industry does not produce goods or services that can be purchased by the consumer, nor does it provide products that enhance our economic growth or improve our lifestyle.

Ask yourself a question. When was the last time a F-22 Raptor fighter jet or M1A1 Abrams main battle tank improved your life?

A partial solution to our National Debt woes is really quite simple and right before our very eyes. End our two endless wars, get out of the Middle East, and slash the military budget. It is not very likely that China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, or anyone else will attack the United States anytime soon. In fact, they probably never will. So, why do we need a military budget that assumes "they" are going to kill us all? That is a myth promulgated by the Pentagon and their colleagues in Washington, namely Congress and the White House.

Our major threat today, and really our only threat today, is terrorism, which is a crime not necessitating war. Terrorism cannot be fought with the F-35 or the Abrams tank. Rather, terrorism is fought by good intelligence and diligent police work.

A naysayer might point out that policemen are incapable of defeating the Taliban army in Afghanistan. That is true. However, the Taliban represents absolutely no threat to our national security, and the only reason they attack our forces is because we are there. Has our continuing war in Afghanistan become a self-fulfilling prophecy? The reason we continue to fight there is because we invaded Afghanistan?



Someone might also question my assertion that we should remove ourselves from the Middle East. Even our President recently stated that America's future is tied to the Middle East. That is another myth at the behest of our Pentagon and its friendly allies in Washington because that statement is only partially true. Our near future is tied to Middle Eastern oil, and that is all. We really have no ties to any nation in the Middle East except Israel. And the few Arab allies we have are reluctant ones. Arab societies detest the U.S. government -- even those societies within our allies. And the cultural differences between those societies and the American society is a chasm. The concept that the Middle East lies on the other side of the world has a dual meaning. The idea that American military involvement can enhance the mutual benefits of both regions is preposterous.

The issue involves America's spending on its military in comparison to other nations. In other words, is there a contest of wills as many have experienced during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States? The Soviet Union joined other defunct empires over 20 years ago, and the Pentagon has yet to adjust to that fact. They are still imagining enemies all over the world -- much like Don Quixote and his windmills. Also, there is no contest. The U.S. is the pre-eminent warrior nation. The U.S. military budget accounts for 43 percent of total military spending worldwide.

So the solution is simple, right? Why in the world are we engaged in wars in the Middle East when those wars have proven counter-productive and when we are borrowing 40 percent of our spending to pay for them from the likes of Red China, Arab oil exporting nations, and Russia? The problem with Americans might be situational awareness because they simply are not being told the magnitude of the problem.

Even awareness of our two wars in the Middle East is more of an illusion than anything else, as illustrated by columnist William J. Astore. He writes, "Our conflicts [5] in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya remain instances of undeclared war, a fact that contributes to their remoteness from our American world. They are remote geographically, but also remote from our day-to-day interests, and unless you are in the military or have a loved one who serves, they are remote from our collective consciousness (not to speak of our consciences). And this remoteness is no accident.  Our wars and their impact are kept in remarkable isolation [6] from what passes for public affairs in this country, leaving most Americans with little knowledge and even less say about whether they should be, and how they are, waged ."

He adds that the isolation of Americans from war, "indeed, in disengaging it from any meaningful public debate about this nation's perpetual war-making -- our rulers have conspired to advance their own interests. Yet in deciding everything of importance out of view, they have unwisely eliminated any check on their folly. A top-heavy, remarkably dissolute, and openly parasitic bureaucracy plundered the commonweal of France in its pursuit of power and privilege. Can we not say the same of Washington today?  In its kleptocratic tendency [15] to enrich itself and its accountability-free deployment of military power globally, the American ruling class bears a certain resemblance to French kings and their courts, which, in the end, drove their country to economic ruin and violent revolution. How many more undeclared, enlightened wars? How many more trillions of dollars in war-driven debt? How many more dead and wounded will it take for the American people to reclaim their power over war? Or are we content to remain deferential to our ruling class and court -- and to their less-than-liberty-loving overseas creditors -- until such a time as their prideful wars and prodigal trillion-dollar-plus [16] defense budgets bring our great democratic experiment crashing down?"

It is dramatically obvious to anyone following our wars in the Middle East that there must be a drastic reassessment of what we are doing and the impact of our military footprint on the region. Inciting hatred for our nation should not be an option for our foreign and military policy, yet it is. Analyst George Friedman states, "The United States must therefore consider its actions should the situation in Afghanistan remain indecisive or deteriorate and should Iraq evolve into an Iranian strategic victory. The simple answer -- extending the mission in Iraq and increasing forces in Afghanistan -- is not viable. The United States could not pacify Iraq with 170,000 troops facing determined opposition, while the 300,000 troops that Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki argued for in 2003 are not available. Meanwhile, it is difficult to imagine how many troops would be needed to guarantee a military victory in Afghanistan. Such surges are not politically viable either. After nearly 10 years of indecisive war, the American public has little appetite for increasing troop commitments to either war."

He adds ominously [addressing the Arab Spring], "Not all demonstrations are revolutions. Not all revolutions are democratic revolutions. Not all democratic revolutions lead to constitutional democracy." Arab Spring is extremely complex and it varies from country to country. It can be likened to several bombs going off at the same time. Do we really want to get involved in all of that?

Of course, events in Palestine are also a part of the conversation, as is Lebanon and Hezbollah, but that is a subject for another article.

There is strong opposition to significantly reducing the military budget. Even the austere deficit hawk budget chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, has declared the $700B defense budget off limits. He would rather push our senior citizens under the bus. They have less clout than the Pentagon.

And what a clout that is. They have a myriad of lobbyists on K Street. The Pentagon can count as their friends some of the most powerful lawmakers on Capital Hill, along with Presidents of the United States who have, in the past, asked for these obscene sums for the military. And, of course, if one questions our brave military, lynching is too kind.

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I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
 
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dustbin of history", don't you mean "buried under ... by Archie on Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 10:16:27 PM