Archive for September 30th, 2010
Tea Party vs. War Party? Pat Buchanan: Neocons try to get Tea Party on board
Posted By Patrick J. Buchanan On September 30, 2010 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | No Comments
“We’re all on the same page until the polls close Nov. 2,” Richard Viguerie, the longtime conservative strategist who has allied with the Tea Party, told the New York Times. After that, “a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party begins.”
Indeed, such a battle seems unavoidable. Consider.
The great issue uniting and motivating the Republican Party and Tea Party is the deficit-debt crisis, a national debt nearing 100 percent of gross domestic product and a deficit of 10 percent of GDP.
As to the cause of the deficit that could precipitate a run on the dollar, double-digit inflation, even a default, the Tea Party and GOP also agree — federal spending that consumes 25 percent of GDP.
Both are also on the same page in their opposition to closing the deficit with new or higher taxes.
This means spending must be slashed. But to cut the budget to 20 percent of GDP, where it was before George W. Bush and Barack Obama, requires spending cuts of an astronomical $700 billion a year. Even then, the 2011 deficit would be $700 billion.
As interest on the debt must be paid, or we default, there are only two places you can find that kind of money. The first is the major entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — and social spending for education, veterans benefits, earned income tax credits and unemployment compensation.
But a Democratic Party, brutalized and bled on Nov. 2, returning to Capitol Hill with its moderate wing annihilated, is unlikely to collude with a resurgent Republican right and Tea Party caucus in hacking away at social programs that are the Democratic Party’s pride and joy, and the reason that party exists.
Which leaves one place where a bipartisan majority may be found for major spending cuts: defense and the empire, the warfare state.
The “agonizing reappraisal” of commitments abroad that John Foster Dulles predicted half a century ago may be at hand.
And here is where the Tea Party and War Party split the blanket.
If Obama makes good on his pledge of full withdrawal of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of 2011, will the Tea Party and Republican right oppose that withdrawal and join the War Party in demanding that we retain an army in Iraq indefinitely?
If Obama refuses to go to war against Iran, a war that would send oil prices soaring, close the Persian Gulf and be a disaster for the global economy, will the Tea Party join the War Party in denouncing Obama for not launching a third war in the Near East?
If Obama begins his promised withdrawal from Afghanistan next July, will Tea Party Republicans join the War Party and the generals in accusing Obama of inviting an American defeat?
The neocons are nervous the Tea Party may not sign up to soldier on for the empire. Writing in the Washington Post, Danielle Pletka and Thomas Donnelly of AEI have sniffed out the unmistakable scent of “isolationism” among Tea Party favorites.
They are warning that the old right and Tea Party might unite in a “combination of Ebenezer Scrooge and George McGovern, withdrawing from the world to a countinghouse America.”
Sorry, but the old neocon name-calling won’t cut it this time.
After Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are not going to give the establishment and War Party a free hand in foreign policy. Every patriot will do what is necessary and pay what is needed to defend his country. But national security is one thing, empire security another.
Why should Americans, 65 years after World War II, be defending rich Europeans from a Soviet Union that has been dead for 20 years, so those same Europeans can cut their defense budgets to protect their social safety nets?
President Eisenhower told JFK to bring the troops home from Europe, or the Europeans would wind up as permanent wards.
Was Ike a closet isolationist?
Almost $14 trillion in debt today, we borrow from Europe to defend Europe, borrow from Japan to defend Japan, borrow from the Gulf Arabs to defend the Gulf Arabs. And we borrow from Beijing to send foreign aid to African regimes whose U.N. delegations laughed and applauded as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the General Assembly that 9/11 was an inside job by the U.S. government. Have we lost all sense of self-respect?
In his 1969 “Silent Majority” address, Richard Nixon said that, after Vietnam, America would provide Asian allies with weapons and assistance in defending their freedom. But Americans would no longer do the fighting.
Why are U.S. soldiers still on the DMZ, 57 years after the Korean War? Why are Marines still on Okinawa, 65 years after Gen. MacArthur took the surrender? Cannot Korea and Japan, prosperous and populous, conscript the soldiers for their own defense?
National security, yes. Empire security we can no longer afford.
The only problem with Sen. McGovern’s “Come home, America!” slogan was the timing.
Read more by Patrick J. Buchanan
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
Posted By Justin Raimondo On September 30, 2010 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 2 Comments
“We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies,” said Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik after a US/NATO manned air strike took out three Pakistani soldiers and wounded three others. If it isn’t clear to the Pakistani minister, it is crystal clear to the people of Pakistan, who live in fear of constant US drone attacks – and, now, open violations of their country’s sovereignty. Anti-American sentiment is at an all-time high, and the increasingly fragile government – which hangs by a very thin thread – is being rapidly undermined by US actions.
The attack was launched “in self-defense,” according to the US military, but the Pakistanis weren’t appeased: they promptly cut off a vital supply route into Afghanistan. Slowly, but surely, the Obama administration is keeping one of the President’s more ominous campaign promises – that he would invade Pakistan, if necessary, to “win” the war in Afghanistan. Even John McCain found this a scary prospect, and denounced it as “dangerous” – and yet we hear nary a peep from the Democratic-controlled Congress, nor are any Republicans, including McCain, raising objections.
Yet this move toward an open confrontation with our Pakistani “allies” may be the most momentous development to date in our seemingly endless “war on terrorism,” one that will plunge the entire region into a conflagration we can barely imagine. Today it is drone strikes, and occasional NATO manned incursions: tomorrow our armies will be marching on Islamabad, trying to unseat Islamic “radicals” on the verge of taking over the country.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan is the prize Osama bin Laden and his cohorts have to win in order to strike a major blow at the US – and we are doing our best to deliver it to him, gift-wrapped. The raids that resulted in the deaths of Pakistani soldiers are said to be somehow connected to vague intelligence reports of a “Mumbai-style” attack planned for somewhere in Europe: the Eiffel Tower was evacuated briefly the other day, and police presence at British landmarks and other sites in Germany was beefed up. But one wonders: if these plans are already in the execution stage, then how would an attack in Pakistan stop or deter them?
The answer is: it wouldn’t. But then again the entire rationale for occupying Afghanistan and destabilizing Pakistan – to eliminate the possibility of attacks on the West – has never been all that convincing. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were launched from Hamburg, Germany, and Hollywood, Florida, not Afghanistan or Pakistan. But then again, no one believes anything coming out of the mouths of US officials, including the officials themselves.
The Americans are constantly harping on the alleged unwillingness of Pakistani authorities to take on the terrorists, but in reality it is Pakistan that has caught and neutralized more terrorists than the US and its allies combined. However, the Obama administration facing political pressure on the home front to “do something,” and stuck in a quagmire of its own making, needs a scapegoat – preferably a foreign (and Islamic) one. Pakistan fits the bill.
It’s all about politics – shocking, isn’t it?
Driven by this dynamic, the US is on a course that has to end in a much-extended war, one that will have us openly fighting in Pakistan before too long. In which case the civilian government is likely to fall and the Pakistani military – trained and armed by the US – will fill the vacuum. This is just what the Pakistani branch of the Taliban wants: it gives them a clear narrative to recite to potential recruits, who are bound to flow into their ranks. In the wake of the worst floods in Pakistan’s long history, which have left four million homeless, and hopeless, a full-blown insurgency is likely to spread from the tribal regions to the rest of the country, threatening the cities – and creating an opportunity for India to move in.
The Indian factor is the one big unknown is all this turmoil, one that could play a decisive role in making a bad situation worse. Pakistan and India have been in a state of undeclared war since 1947, and the rise of Hindu ultra-nationalism has exacerbated tensions with Muslims, who have been the targets of violence by Hindu extremists. Tensions are high right now due to the expected court decision over who owns the land on which the Ayodhya mosque once sat: Muslims want to rebuild the 16th century structure, while extremist Hindus are opposed. The issue could spark yet another round of ethno-religious rioting in India, provoke more terrorist attacks in the region, and ultimately lead to a violent clash with Pakistan over one of many flashpoints on the long Indo-Pakistani border.
The very dangerous course the Obama is currently pursuing could easily end in the world’s first nuclear exchange: Indian nukes are aimed straight at Islamabad, just as Pakistan’s nuclear-tipped missiles are pointed at New Delhi.
This grisly prospect doesn’t seem to be deterring the Obama administration one bit: indeed, our provocations aimed at Pakistan have only increased in recent days. Reckless is too mild a word to employ in this regard: crazy is more like it.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
A reminder: I’m going on the road this autumn, a speaking tour that will take me from the West coast to the East coast, and points in between as yet to be determined. My topic: How we can defeat the War Party, and why we must..
Read more by Justin Raimondo
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
America’s crumbling infrastructure (as neoconned US government spends BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq instead!)
America’s crumbling infrastructure (as neoconned US government spends BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq instead!):
US facing bankruptcy:
Veterans’ Health Costs Could Top $900 Billion: Study
WASHINGTON — A new study estimates that health costs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could top $900 billion, and a lawmaker wants to set up a trust fund to make sure the bill will be paid.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Ca., warned that the U.S. faces a huge bill for veterans’ health care, and his concerns were buttressed by a recent study by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University.
The two academics say the number of veterans, their injury rates and the cost of treating them have increased far more than expected in the last couple of years.
“If Americans want to vote for war, the Congress wants to vote for war, that’s fine – but include the real costs” and budget for them, Filner told reporters by phone Wednesday. Filner is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the issue Thursday.
Stiglitz and Bilmes, also speaking by phone, on Wednesday estimated the cost of providing vets with lifetime medical costs and disability payments from the Veteran’s Administration, as well as Social Security payments for the severely disabled, at between $589 billion and $934 billion, depending on the length and intensity of the Iraq and Afghan wars.
That is more than 30 percent higher than the Stiglitz and Bilmes estimated in the 2008 book “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”
They said that about 600,000 of the more than 2.1 million service members who’ve been deployed since 2001 have already received treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The 600,000 figure is far higher than the numbers most often given publicly by defense officials.
The veterans agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.