by Bob Geary
I note for the record that the U.S. House of Representatives this week voted to spend $59 billion more on combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The vote was 308-114. Of the negative votes, 102 were cast by Democrats. Democrats split 148-102 in favor of the measure. Republicans were more gung-ho, all their rhetoric about wasteful federal spending notwithstanding; the GOP voted 160-12 in favor of continuing to pour billions into wars that even the Pentagon acknowledges aren't winnable.
I didn't see it anywhere, so I looked up how the N.C. congressional delegation voted. Two of our 13 members voted no. They were Democrat Mel Watt, whose home base is Charlotte, and Republican Walter Jones, the Down East member whose district is heavily military.
All three Triangle-area members were yes votes: Reps. Bob Etheridge, David Price and Brad Miller.
On the subject of war, national security and the stunningly expensive military-industrial "intelligence" complex built by Washington since 9/11, I strongly recommend reading this essay by Andrew Bacevich on TomDispatch.com — along with Tom Englehardt's introduction. Bacevich is a Boston University professor and the author of a new book, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War.
Englehardt begins with this:
If you ever needed convincing that the world of American “national security” is well along the road to profligate lunacy, read the striking three-part “Top Secret America” series by Dana Priest and William Arkin that the Washington Post published last week. When it comes to the expansion of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), which claims 17 major agencies and organizations, the figures are staggering. Here’s just a taste: “Twenty-four [new intelligence] organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips, and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11.”
And from Bacevich:
If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars (and from their Israeli equivalents), it’s this: victory is a chimera. Counting on today’s enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, Americans contemplated their equivalent of Israel’s “demographic bomb” — a “fiscal bomb.” Ingrained habits of profligacy, both individual and collective, held out the prospect of long-term stagnation: no growth, no jobs, no fun. Out-of-control spending on endless wars exacerbated that threat.