of Cowboy Diplomacy, Part II?
I am very grateful
for your perceptive and rich articles, and I have been reading them for years.
This last piece is particularly encouraging. In addition to the strong case
you make about the ascendancy of the realists, I thought it would further strengthen
your argument to remind readers that Robert Gates was the co-chair with Zbigniew
Brzezinski of the Council on Foreign Relations independent task force report
of November 2004 "Iran:
Time for a New Approach," which calls for immediate diplomatic engagement
~ Hani Asfour
Sand In Our Faces
you for this new information. From the cerebral stratospheres of PBS with David
Brooks down to the junkie talk show host Michael Medved, Richard Armitage is
being blamed for the leak. Poor Scooter Libby has to go to jail just because
he told a lie, and they went after him when they should have gone after someone
else because it made better hunting. The lies apparently continue, and I wonder
if we will ever get to the bottom of this. But fortunately reporters such as
yourself are still on the case.
~ Kathy Berkowitz
suppose you meant it as a compliment, but I am NOT a reporter. I am an anguished
Reaganaut, an experimental nuclear physicist by profession, counting many of
the players in this immorality play of the past six years to be friends and
colleagues. But I say with Brent Scowcroft, I thought I knew Dick Cheney, but
I don't know this guy. As for Rich Armitage – whom I have known for thirty years,
worked with and even worked for – I wish to be on record as believing that if
Rich (who was in the running) had been named SecDef in 2001, with his friend
Colin Powell as SecState, NONE of this would have happened. None of it!
Much is the War on Iraq Costing You?
article! More information such as this should be provided to readers. Americans
should be made aware of the amount of their dollars used for this war, rather
than for Social Security, Medicare, schools and education, and most needed improvements
in transportation infrastructure. Henderson should be published often and throughout
~ June Cassidy
you. You point out correctly that war has what economists call an "opportunity
cost." You've listed many of the things that the money to finance the war could
have been used for. Your Social Security example is particularly apropos. Social
Security is in a long-term mess and, had George Bush avoided this war, there
would have been funds to pull off his plan for personal accounts. Although we
will never know for sure, I believe that the idea died mainly because of the
I note that you
tended to focus on items that the government could have spent money on. It's
also true that with the tax cuts we could have had without the war, individual
citizens and non-citizens in America could have had more funds to buy the things
they wished. As I pointed out to the members of my local peace coalition who
gave examples like yours, "Let's not minimize the importance of drinking beer
and going to Hawaii." That we have less of those things is also, in part, due
to the war.
~ David R. Henderson
Enjoyed the first
part of your "How Much is the War on Iraq Costing You?" but would
like for you to consider the following: first, though it seems upper income
people bear the brunt of taxation to fund the war, it would seem logical that
they probably benefit most from the war; for instance, it is likely these folks
invest in the military-industrial complex that drives this war or have family
members that do.
Second, they benefit
by NOT being in the financial situation that would cause their children to feel
joining the military is their best way out of poverty or low income, because
their sons and daughters will likely be able to go to the most prestigious universities,
and, thus (and with their upper income networking connection) get the high-paying
jobs after college, probably with no college loan debt to haunt them.
Third, if they
are well connected, even if their kids do join the military they are NOT likely
to be sent to Iraq (or Afghanistan for that matter) and are more likely to be
sent to a cushier spot like Europe or South Korea or Japan, and also are more
likely to be officers.
Now, as for low
income people, though they pay little tax-wise for the war, they pay the most
in lives lost. It is well known that the lowest incomes are in rural areas,
where a disproportionate number of killed troops come from rural counties, while
another low income area are inner cities that also have high attrition rates.
And yes, the higher cost of oil will affect low income people the most, especially
those in rural areas where there are longer driving distances to do anything
so more gas is consumed by these people (plus, the price of gas is ALWAYS higher
in rural areas!). Given this however, I think it is possible that the quintiles
in the middle, who, while not paying the higher percentage of taxes as those
in the uppermost, still pay a high enough percentage of their incomes to truly
bare the brunt of the war AND send enough sons and daughters there to die to
truly feel the horror of this war that are being squeezed more than low or high
tax increases be necessary, it is the folks in the middle who (as they do not
have upper income connections nor the sympathy of the "tax-and-spend liberals")
will wind up, as always, paying the most.
~ Deborah Lagarde
Thank you for
your thoughtful letter. I'm glad you enjoyed the first part of my article. You
raise a number of important issues and I want to respond to each. Doing so will
take a good deal of time and so my plan is to write a longer response as a future
Antiwar.com column because I think your concerns are shared by many readers
of this site.
Let me just respond
to one issue you raise now and leave the rest for later. It is true, as you
say, that high-income people are probably disproportionately invested in the
military-industrial complex. And this does mean, as you say, that they will
benefit from an expenditure on this complex. But their benefit from the expenditure
will be less than the cost to them of the expenditure. Take a numerical example.
Assume that the government taxes $1 billion and that, given my earlier estimates,
high-income people pay half of that, or $500 million. Now let's say that the
government spends all of this $1 billion on a firm that's a member of the military-industrial
complex. Say this firm produces bombs that are dropped on Iraq. The $1 billion
spent is not a net gain to the firm. The firm must pay for manpower, material,
buildings, etc. The typical profit as a percent of revenue for a U.S. firm is
somewhere between 5 and 10%. Let's apply the top end of that estimate to the
$1 billion. That means that the firm's net gain is $100 million. So even in
the extreme case, which does not hold, that the firm was owned entirely by higher-income
people, paying $500 million to get back $100 million is not a good deal. And
notice at each stage of this analysis, I have stated key numbers to lead to
an upper estimate of the gain. Benefiting the upper income class by spending
on war is like feeding sparrows by feeding horses. But at least the horses don't
have to pay; here the horses do. What this illustrates is the tremendous deadweight
loss of war, that is, a loss to the economy that benefits no one. In my $1-billion
example above, the deadweight loss (and that's assuming the bombs do no harm)
is $900 million.
More to follow
in a soon-to-be written future column.
speech reminded me of an idea I had a while back and inspired me to submit it
to you and your readers.
The U.S. gives
something like $4 billion per year to Israel in foreign aid. My thought is to
put this money to better use by (1) stating our intention to put each year's
allocation into an escrow account to be used for compensating Palestinians who
lost land/homes, (2) pressuring the EU to match our contributions (after all,
Herzel's solution was primarily a product of European anti-Semitism), and (3)
holding the funds in escrow for an extended period with the understanding that
there will be significant reductions via a formula that would be based on specified
terrorist attacks in Israel and the U.S.
If you assume
that this would result in $8 billion per year and also assume 800,000 claims
(the approximate number of original refugees), the ten year per-claim total
would be $100,000.00.
It seems to me
that this could benefit all sides in several extremely significant ways, including
enhancing security in Israel and the U.S., putting the U.S. in the role of "honest
broker," dealing with one of the toughest obstacles to peace (right of
return/compensation), and possibly improving mood of the "Arab street"
toward the U.S.
And – get this
– it wouldn't cost U.S. taxpayers one extra cent (as opposed to the billions
we're wasting in Iraq).
If you or any
of your readers think that this is a good idea, please feel free to borrow or
steal it from me.
~ Greg Brownfield,
Are Some American Christians So Bloodthirsty?
Your article is
well written. I had basically figured my Republican Christian friends had lost
their minds. Most were willing to give their children to this war because they
believed even an Iraqi infant dying was going to save us from future terrorists.
My friends recommended that I get my news from a pro-war Web site (I don't recall
I was stunned
by their reactions to the senseless war and their reaction to me. I became an
unacceptable person to be around. Those who felt horrified like I did encountered
similar reactions. I was confused why my Christian friends were so gung-ho.
I, too, am a Christian, but I was devastated. While I could understand the hunt
for bin Laden, I couldn't understand why the shift went to Saddam Hussein. No
weapons of mass destruction would be found.
I also figured
that if the Iraqi people wanted Hussein dead, he would be dead. As we can see
they are fiercely trying to defend their country from the "invaders."
I wonder what propaganda they are probably receiving as to why we are even there.
I'm sure they are being fed false information also.
After much searching
on the Internet, your article makes a lot of sense. You are correct about what
they are hearing. Even the most mild-mannered of the stay-at-home moms became
bloodthirsty. Her children could no longer be near my children. I just wish
she (they) had the sense to question the one-sided news that was used as the
daily talking point.
Finally, it seems
that many now are realizing what a colossal fiasco we have been led into and
I pray that they regain some compassion for all of God's children. In putting
George Bush on the same level as Jesus Christ they have committed a horrible
blunder. We can't put our faith and trust in man. When we do, we are disappointed
~ Martha Lane