Leave no arms merchant behind

Leave no arms merchant behind May 19, 2011

Johann Hari has sharp piece on the OBL assassination and US foreign policy. Here's a choice excerpt:

Flawed US policy keeps Osama's message alive – Analysis, Opinion – Independent.ie

Osama Bin Laden is dead, but US foreign policy is still giving him what he wanted. The US is bleeding cash. The angry, fighting people in Afghanistan today are — according to leaked CIA reports — overwhelmingly "a tribal, localised insurgency" who "see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power". They have "no goals" beyond Afghanistan's borders.

Even General Petraeus, the new head of the CIA, says there are only 100 al-Qa'ida fighters in the whole of Afghanistan. One senior military official compared their intelligence on them to "Bigfoot sightings". Crunch the numbers, and you find the US is spending $1.5bn (€1.03bn) a year on each al-Qa'ida fighter in Afghanistan. Is there anyone alive, except the private defence contractors making a fortune, who thinks that is a sensible use of cash?

Emphasis added. And Republicans shrilly denounce "Obamacare" as spendthrift profligacy.  Yet when it comes to the Pentagon, the cat seems to have the tongue of the folks who insist we're too broke for even the most minimal trappings of a modern society (i.e., basic social spending), to the extent of blocking spending that undeniably saves us money.

To say this is a "guns vs. butter" quandary doesn't really capture the Kafkaesque reasoning, because we've basically abandoned any pretense that there even is a quandary, a need to invest in both objectives.  It's all guns.

Forget about the war's dubious morality, the huge human cost on both sides, its relentlessly counterproductive geopolitical consequences, the seeming impossibility of winning it, or the conspicuous absence of an exit strategy or success criteria on the part of its boosters. Let's just boil it down to the bottom line: How can we even afford this endless welfare program for arms merchants, defense contractors and corrupt warlords?

I want my tax dollars back.

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