I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics on TV, and the color commentators for NBC are typically athletes who’ve earned gold medals in the past, like Tara Lipinski in figure skating or Bode Miller in skiing. Why is it, then, when NBC and other networks seek expert “color” commentary on America’s wars, they turn to retired generals like David Petraeus, who’ve won nothing?
I’m not dissing Petraeus here. He himself admitted his “gains” in Iraq as well as Afghanistan were both “fragile and reversible.” And so they proved. The U.S. fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost thousands of troops and trillions of dollars for gains that truly were ephemeral. Despite this disastrous and tragic reality, Petraeus remains the sage on the stage, the go-to guy for analysis of our never-ending wars on PBS, Fox News, and elsewhere.
President Trump has delivered his military budget request for 2019 that increases spending by 12 percent over 2017 spending. Designed to fully fund a “depleted” military, even Defense Secretary Mattis was surprised at the figures. Many more warships, many more F-22s (even though they don’t work). Half a billion more dollars to continue the US “regime change” operation in Syria. There’s something in it for everybody…except the American people. How this massive spending increase makes us less safe and less free in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Neocons — and even a few “libertarians” — are furious that North Korea is getting some credit for unleashing a “charm offensive” at the Olympic games. Rather than look to a future without crippling sanctions and the threat of nuclear war, they obsess on the lurid details of reported abuses by the North Korean government. But what’s the big problem with a “charm offensive”? Isn’t it preferable to a military offensive? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Over the past several days, Russia and Israel have lost fighter jets over Syria. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those countries. When jets attack people on the ground, those people tend to fire back (if they have weapons at hand), and sometimes they even hit their targets.
What is interesting is the Russian and Israeli reaction, which was in essence identical: immediate escalation. More air attacks. More bombs. All justified as “reprisal” raids that are couched in terms of self-defense.
The mentality goes something like this: How dare you little people on the ground have the temerity to fire back at us and actually hit our planes? For that you must be punished with more air attacks and more bombs until you stop firing at and hitting our planes.
It’s been a couple of weeks of serious escalation in Syria. First, the US attacked and killed some 100 Syrian government-allied troops for launching an operation against a US-funded rebel force that seeks the overthrow of the Syrian government. Then some US-trained rebels shot down a Russian jet fighter. Then Israel began bombing Syria for the 100th or so time. Then Syria shocked the world and shot down an Israeli F-16. Then Israel dropped some more bombs on Syria for what it said was a violation of its sovereignty. Where does it go from here? And why are we still there? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
The new Congressional budget boosts military spending in a big way. Last night’s PBS News report documented how military spending is projected to increase by $160 billion over two years, but that doesn’t include “overseas contingency funding” for wars, which is another $160 billion over two years. Meanwhile, spending for the opioid crisis, which is killing roughly 60,000 Americans a year (more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War), is set at a paltry $6 billion ($25 billion was requested).
One thing is certain: Ike was right about the undue influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex.
The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to “rebuild.” And, sure, there are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and even more disastrous military adventurism.
Even if you’re a supporter of big military budgets, this massive boost in military spending is bad news. Why? It doesn’t force the military to think. To set priorities. To define limits. To be creative.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the expression, “Spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.” Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those “sailors” an enormous boost in the loose change they’re carrying, trusting them to spend it wisely?
William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.