I listened to President Obama the other night trying to justify his decision to escalate the U.S. Wars in the Middle East. I don't think there was one word in his speech that had not been carefully placed there, with great deliberation, to allow him and the Democrats lots of wiggle-room and disclaimers for the future.
Some people "heard" that the U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan within 18 months, by July of 2011. But that's not what he said. Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. was on Rachel Maddow the following evening, and she made hair-splitting statements on that issue such as no, the troops will not be withdrawn by July of 2011, but the U.S. will begin to withdraw troops as the situation allows. Rachel Maddow asked whether Rice meant all the troops -- was Obama saying all the troops would begin to be withdrawn with no permanent U.S. bases staffed and in place forever? Or did he just mean some of the 30,000 additional troops would begin to be withdrawn? The answer was slick, clever, and evasive. Draw your own conclusions, but mine is that there is no intention by the U.S. to withdraw troops from the countries we now occupy, other than for the purpose of attacking and invading other countries such as Pakistan and Iran.
What is really going on is a revival of the old Domino theory. Listening to the ambassador try to justify this military occupation was a convoluted effort. Yes (she acknowledged) it's true that there are not many al Queda people in Afghanistan (U.S. intelligence admits that there are only One Hundred people, 100 al Queda people inside Afghanistan). See http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24105.htm
But, the Ambassador worries, even if there are very few al Queda members inside Afghanistan, they might come back someday. They could. It's possible. And therefore, we need to send in an additional 30,000 troops, bringing U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan to 100,000.
Obama said he was going to be honest with the American public about the cost of his escalation. He says the escalation will cost Thirty Billion Dollars. $30,000,000,000.00. Some people heard that the entire continuation of the war would cost Thirty Billion, but that's not true. Thirty Billion is the extra amount that we'll spend on top of the money we were already spending in Afghanistan.
According to the website Cost Of War, the U.S. has spent $233 Billion so far in the war against Afghanistan which, according to Obama, was not really much of a war at all. We've spent $706 Billion on the U.S. War against Iraq. Total for the two wars so far is $939 Billion, almost One Trillion Dollars. That's just what we've spent so far, and does not include the costs to our country for the injured veterans' care in the future. It does not include the costs of escalation. It does not include the new war we are starting against Pakistan. It does not include the war they want to start against Iran. Our economy is in ruins, our politicians are all on the payroll of the corporations which really run this country, our jobs have been sent to China to be done by slave labor, foreclosures are at a record high. These wars are bankrupting our country. Some estimates show that each family in this country will end up paying $50,000 for these wars. A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it starts to add up. http://www.costofwar.com/
Instead of just being honest with the American public about the additional cost from escalating the war, how about if Obama instead explains exactly how he plans to pay for this. With my money? I'm an American citizen, I don't have any money. The Republicans stole it all. So how will Obama pay for this, when the country is already broke? Shutting down schools, firing cops, failing to help the bankrupt states so they have to raise tuition in state colleges and only the rich can afford an education? How exactly does he plan to pay for all this war? If we're going to get honest about money, let's get real honest.
After all, the Ambassador continued, Pakistan is the real problem. She went on and on about Pakistan. But madam Ambassador, I wish Rachel had said, the Constitution gives only Congress the authority to declare war. Not the President. The President has no authority to start a war against any nation unless Congress has voted to do so. So how on earth can Obama now argue that we need 30,000 troops to fight in Afghanistan against people in Pakistan, when we are not at war with Pakistan. There has been no Congressional authorization for the U.S. to start a war against Pakistan. Does Obama, the Constitutional law scholar, intend to follow the Bush Doctrine, which is that the President can do whatever he wants, invade any country he wants?
First we had World War I, the War to End All Wars. When Americans came back from that war, they said no thanks, we don't want no more stinkin' wars. Then we had World War II. Which was largely the result of the economic crash in the entire world caused by U.S. criminals operating on Wall Street and stealing everyone else's money. Then we had Korea. What the heck was the U.S. doing in Korea? And Vietnam. And the standoff in Berlin with the U.S. on one side and the Soviet Union on the other. The Cold War. I'm not sure why it was called that, but on the surface it was mostly the U.S., the Soviet Union and China all claiming the others were trying to destroy them, all obtaining weapons and threatening to annihilate the other if they attacked first. Think of two well-armed men in a small room pointing a loaded gun at each other, fingers in the trigger, then standing there for 50 years.
Instead of having a peace dividend at the end of World War II, the military industrial complex (private war profiteers) began cheerleading for more weapons, more wars, so they could continue to take most of the U.S. budget every year for "defense." Instead of building schools and providing healthcare and free education for all Americans, instead of building affordable housing and providing all Americans with a decent pension on retirement, instead of that our money is stolen and used to pay for useless weapons.
How is this possible? Why would the American public stand for it? Such a waste.
The Domino Theory was one popular explanation as to why we needed to spend most of our public money on military contractors, buy more weapons, more planes, more bombs, more tanks. The Domino Theory is this: if one nation "falls" to communism (becomes a communist government) then every other nation in the region will also "fall" to communism. In other words, under the Domino Theory you don't even need one communist, or one al Queda member, inside a country, in order to justify invading it and militarily occupying it forever. After all, somebody might come along if we weren't there, and might try to set up a communist government. Better safe than sorry. Better dead than red.
And now we have the highly esteemed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. trying to explain that Obama essentially has adopted the Domino Theory as his middle east policy. Talk about Deja Vu all over again. No, there is not much of an al Queda presence in Afghanistan (some U.S. intelligence experts say there are fewer than 100 al Queda members in Afghanistan). But they might come back. And if they did, then they could take over Pakistan too, and maybe Iraq or Saudi Arabia. When one Domino falls, it topples the whole line. We would be in danger if that happened.
Here's the truth. Whatever the imagined de jure bogey-man fear is that is used to justify the U.S. military attacking and invading and occupying and controlling other countries, dogmas and doctrines come and go, but the underlying conditions for world instability remain the same: poverty, hopelessness, oppression, injustice, lack of opportunity and despair.
People who have good lives have no interest in blowing up their neighbors. People who have nothing to lose will risk their lives for a bite of bread. Nobody acknowledges that the widespread appeal of the Taliban and al Queda comes from the conditions imposed on the middle east by western nations stealing their oil: widespread unemployment, lack of opportunity, horrendous levels of poverty, humiliation for over a century by Western occupation, injustice, despair and hopelessness.
Those are the conditions that give rise to people willing to risk their lives for a little bread for themselves, hope for their children. These are the conditions that give rise to the level of rage that would lead a person to fly an airplane into a hi-rise building. All the Western nations have done in the middle east is occupy the countries, demean and humiliate the people, and steal their resources. That's it. And occasionally our occupying forces and private contractors rape the women, just because they can.
Want to end the instability in the middle east and everywhere else in the world? Listen to Marvin Gaye. War is not the answer. War creates victims which creates enemies which creates more violence and more war.
The U.S. should immediately end the wars and instead use these billions of dollars to begin a reconstruction program through an international organization, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only local people can be hired. Build homes, roads, sanitation facilities, water systems, hospitals, clinics, schools. Condition the assistance on civil rights for women including the right to travel, to work, to be free from abuse.
Listen to Marvin Gaye: Barack Obama, we don't need to escalate. War is not the answer....