Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Obama's War

So President Obama has taken the plunge. He’s upping the ante in Afghanistan. Well, the best of luck to him - both getting in and out. But as the Brits might put it, he’s on somewhat of a sticky wicket.
One thing for sure – it’s his war now. We can’t blame George Bush anymore. Well, actually, we can, but what’s the point?
Could the president have done otherwise? I suppose he could have taken the Russian general’s advice, “get out now with a small humiliation, rather than a much bigger one later.” But that would have been a tough policy to defend in 2012.
Or he could have listened to Joe Biden and sent in 10,000 or so to train the Afghan army and police. But everyone knows such a tactic is just a precursor to withdrawal. So instead, unlikely as it seems, we’re going to go in and get out before we even get there in the first place.
Don’t count on it. Afghanistan is like The Honey Pot, a notorious pub on the banks of the Slaney. Once you got in you didn’t get out until your money was all gone.
Why go in at all? Well, we’re told that if the Taliban take over, they’ll have Qaeda training camps like McDonalds all over the country. But why should Osama’s boys suffer the wrath of the US Air Force when they already have first class franchises in Somalia and Yemen. They’re a transnational outfit now and better be lying on the beach by the Indian Ocean than milking goats up in the mountains.
It’s a moot point anyway. We’re about to give Qaeda and every other Jihadi with half a haircut the best possible training – multiple years of matching wits with the US Army in terrain ideal for guerrilla warfare.
And we’ll be paying for it at the rate of a million bucks a year for each US soldier. I have to admit that particular statistic caught my attention.
But since Iraq and the various bailouts I’ve lost all notion of scale. The Christian Brothers definitely didn’t prepare me for today’s financial metrics. Not that I was totally clueless; after all, Jem Stafford, who owned half of Wexford, was reputed to be a millionaire.
But I doubt that even Jem would have been able to get his head around the fact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far cost either two or three trillion dollars - depending on who you talk to.
But what exactly is a trillion? Well I just googled it and they sent me to CNN.com (they should know, they had the good sense to pink-slip Lou Dobbs).
Well, for your edification, a billion is a thousand million, and a trillion is a thousand billion.
Now bear with me for I can feel the ghost of Brother Gleason of the CBS peering over my shoulder. Wouldn’t that mean that we have spent either two or three million times more moolah than the almighty Jem possessed? Holy Gamoley, as me granny used to say!
Of course, most of these trillions went on our Chinese credit card, seeing that we don’t charge ourselves for foreign wars like we do for reforming domestic health insurance.
That was one of President Bush’s innovations, and a right good one it was – for me anyway - because I advised against the war in Iraq from the gitgo and don’t think I should be charged for a penny of it.
Now I sincerely hope that when President Obama sits down to his spuds and cabbage with Michelle and the girls that the dreaded T-word doesn’t come up. I stand firmly in the Republican camp on this matter. If George Bush didn’t tax me for the wars of the last eight years, then why should this guy from Chicago, Hawaii or wherever he’s from, suggest such an outrage?
So, I fear we’ve come to our parting of the ways, Mister President. Between you and me, I actually don’t care if you were born in Mecca or Magherafelt, and I do think you’re a good man – after all, you have banned institutionalized torture and probably saved us from the bread lines during the recent financial imbroglio.
But I’m with the Birthers and Tea Partyers on this issue. If you want to go adding the guts of another trillion dollars to the national debt then please don’t put any of it on my tab.
Lou Dobbs wouldn’t. And neither would Jem Stafford.

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