Friday, May 27, 2005

Rhetoric and Resources

So, apparently the neo-cons have decided that a War on Terror means imposing Democracy on the Muslim world, starting with Iraq. This objective has been stated in speeches by the President and those around him.

Do we have the resources for such a project?

We have started our 'crusade for democracy' in Iraq, where things are definately not going well. We are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into that country with seemingly little result. We are running a budget deficit of somewhere in the neighborhood of $450 billion dollars and our defense spending seems to be only growing. The US national debt has already reached $7.75 trillion, not including the bankrupt Social Security cookie jar.

We have stationed 150,000 US troops on the ground and brought in maybe another 15,000-20,000 allied forces. We have supposedly trained over 100,000 Iraqi police and national guard, even though according to most reports the only effective forces are several thousand Special Forces and what used to be the Kurdish peshmerga. Any dream of replacing US troops with allied forces is long forgotten after the withdrawal of the forces of 10 countries and the planned withdrawal or downsizing in 2005 of the forces of at least four others (Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine). These withdrawals would leave only the Americans, Brits with sizable fighting forces facing the insurgency (the Koreans are sitting in the Kurdish zones, the Japs dont leave their compounds). The already stretched US forces are going to need to control even more territory once the withdrawing forces hand over command of their sectors to the US military.

The US Army is facing a recruiting crisis, and has not met its recruiting goals in at least three months. Even more alarming is the four month shortfall in the Marine Corps recruiting. The reason for the crisis is clear and it stems from the fact that during wartime fewer young people want to join the army to face the possibility of death in combat. This is especially true in a situation where the population is almost evenly split on the question of the need for the war in the first place. Where are the troops for this war going to come from? Are we facing a prelude to a new national draft?

The tens of billions of dollars spent on the ground in Iraq and the 1800+ US and coalition dead and 12,000+ wounded have not created a stable situation in the country with car bombings going off almost every day for the past month. The Pentagon and White House have made no statements on a time-table for a withdrawal or created any clear benchmarks for such a withdrawal.

If Iraq is only the first stage in a grand strategy of spreading democracy then the resources currently spent on the military will continue to be spent and the massive overseas deployments will also continue. With the federal budget deficit and national debt being what they are, where is the money for this grand plan for the world going to come from?

I ask again, do we have the resources for this grand project? And if not, then should we not be thinking up an alternative strategy to the 'crusade for democracy' being executed by our leaders right now?

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