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June 02, 2016


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Your selection of historical events includes "sunk costs". Right, wrong, or indifferent, those things happened.

The world is a different place because of the terrorist attacks you mention. I share your frustration that the US seems to be taking the lead in the fight, at least in terms of military action in foreign lands.

Eisenhower was spot on about the military industrial complex. Like all government bureaucracies, it sells fear in exchange for more power, more money, more people, more,more, more. Lunacy.

BTW, I think the 1.5 trillion for the F-35 is actually how much the total costs are projected to be, not what that freakin' fiasco "has" cost. Nonetheless, it's a mess and future defense requests for funding should be analyzed with explicit reference to what a mess it has become. Heads should roll.

My thought are clear. Want a war? Pay for it. Want social security? Pay for it. To argue that since x is subsidized, then y should be subsidized, too, is exactly what has gotten this country (and the states) in the financial mess they're in.

It's also part of the problem with a global approach in fighting terrorism. Those budgets are strained, too.

The last 4 quarters of GNP growth have been 3.9%, 2%, 1.4%, and .8% and the 10 year TBill hasn't seen 2% for about 5 months- it hasn't seen 3% for about 2 1/2 years.

And the US is still the world's best economy.....

More bad news

10 year yield tumbles to 1.7%

The real estate developer is right about one thing. We need a wall. The world needs a wall – a wall completely encircling the United States – to keep us from getting out and ruining the rest of the planet. At the same time, in real estate terms, it would create the American ideal, a gated community with no gates.

The idea that the US "did not choose this era of perpetual war' is preposterous. Declaring 'war' on 'terror' is nothing if not opting for the choice of open-ended, ill-defined, and perpetual conflict. Addicted to the crack of defense dollars our elected representatives are incapable (unwilling) of dialing back the obscene amounts of money we shell out on 'defense'. And guess what? When you've got an immense, shiny, powerful military, it's impossible to resist the temptation to use it.

The military has become a career for thousands of undereducated Americans who would have worked in factories prior to globalization. With few blue collar options available, what else would we do with these folks as a nation?

Diane D'Angelo with an elitist and extreme view of the military. At some level this may be true. Especially in the lower enlisted ranks. However, the military has warned of the danger climate change imposes and has even mentioned the effects of Republicans giving the DoD wasteful funding.

Diane raises a valid point about employment. But major and sustained investment in infrastructure would create many jobs, not only construction but operating positions. So would taxing Wall Street with incentives for deals that create jobs. Universal healthcare would allow people to move out and start their own businesses, hire one or two. Antitrust needs to be toughened -- consolidation kills employment. Lots of options. We're facing big issues with automation ahead. But military Keynesianism isn't the solution.

well said mr. talton, we have the resources to better ourselves; the will? the imagination?

I do think military budget cuts need to be considered. I believe we can maintain a strong, world-leading military with somewhat less funding. It's not the end of the world to cut back a little bit. I wish more conservatives wouldn't see military spending cuts as failing some sort of litmus test.

It's okay to increase or decrease spending levels in response to real-world stimulii and I do feel the challenges of the present and future require perhaps less overall troop strength but continued strong investment in technology and intelligence.

"(T)he military ... has even mentioned the effects of Republicans giving the DoD wasteful funding."
True, phxSUNSfan, but Congress (mostly, but not completely, Republicans) has foisted upon the military some weapons the armed forces have rejected, like the tanks parked in Nevada because the Army has no use for them but Congress ordered them anyway (jobs, you know).
A few points:
1. Most Americans have no idea how strong our military is. If they did, they wouldn't listen to idiots like Trump talk about how weak we are. Even a candidate like Bernie Sanders has not discussed in general the firepower our military has, nor asked to what ends we possess it. For instance, we have 10 Nimitz-class supercarriers. No one else has even one. China's single carrier is about half the size of a Nimitz. We of course have the world's largest air force. You know who No. 2 is? The U.S. Navy.
2. We fret about Iran having a nuke. I say we give the Iranians one, then tell them we'll have one of our 14 nuclear-armed Ohio-class submarines parked in the Persian Gulf in case they use it. One of those subs carries 24 Trident missiles, each of which can have up to 14 warheads packing 100 kilotons of power (the Hiroshima bomb had about 15). You want to play? Let's play.
3. Seems to me a lot of defense people could be employed rebuilding our infrastructure, including the rail systems Jon mentioned, expanding high-speed Internet across the country, repairing our roads and bridges, and expanding alternative sources of power so that we wouldn't have to protect the Middle East sandbox. The political will, alas, is lacking. Not enough kickbacks.
4. The U.S. spends half its budget on war, more than the next 10 countries combined. We could cut our defense spending in half and have all of the things Sanders has talked about and still have the world's strongest military. It's just priorities, people.
5. One way to cut down our war-making is by reinstating the draft. If Biff (and now Betty) were at risk of getting their ass blown off in some godforsaken shithole like Afghanistan or Syria, Mom and Dad would think twice about our war adventures. As it is, America treats its service members like Don Blankenship treats coal miners: a necessary nuisance, easily replaceable.

Greg, Well said. And 10-4 on mandatory conscription. The military has place almost anyone regardless their abilities or handicaps could find a work place.

Hillary, "do you want someone like Trump to have access to the nuclear codes? "

America, "Hillary, you'd put the nuclear codes in your unsecured email."

The issues raised here are valid and disheartening. Our American problems are the result of political choices.

And now . . . a vote for Hillary is a vote for the status quo.

And Trump is insane.

SJ, said, "Trump is insane". I agree.
But so are about 30 percent of the American population.
If Hillary gets the job we can only hope that Sanders campaign has and will keep her from being the status quo and a Roman General off to war.
I like what Greg HillaRd said above.

RC, you make a lot of well stated points. What would your middle east prescription be? Would you recommend at this point completely withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and all alliances in the middle east? Do you think doing that and ending any involvement with Israel would placate the jihadists and keep them from wanting to attack us?


It's not a binary choice.

Our Front Page editor, who spent many years in the Middle East as a foreign-service officer (or spook?), argues that things are so screwed up that we should let the Crips and Bloods fight it out and check back in a generation...or two.

I say, first we need to act in our national interest, rather than being led along by the Saudis and Israelis. Sometimes our interests coincide, often not.

Not everything is ours to fix. The EU has a larger GDP than the United States. As for Colin Powell's apocryphal "Pottery Barn rule," we DON'T own it -- even if we broke Iraq.

I don't want to "placate the jihadists." I want to stop digging (the Rule of Holes: "When in a hole, stop digging."). Our "war on terror" has only bred new terrorists. Every time we claim to have killed some top terrorist in a drone strike, it accomplishes...nothing, except to inflame more of the Islamic world against us.

We also need to be aware of the stupendous population overshoot in the Middle East and elsewhere (AZ, call your office). As this intersects with climate change, things are going to get very nasty. We'd be better off attending to clean energy, taxing carbon, building high-speed rail and funding transit — and paying for a modernized nuclear deterrent and large Navy — than continuing to dig the hole. We're not the world police.

How many CHAPOS can U kill until there are no CHAPOS left?

Defense spending continues to erode the USA. What will be left after our slick empire of political toadies and oligarchs collapses?

Jon, This is one of the best pieces I have seen on the topic. You nailed the high points and leave your readers to think about how to stop the bleeding. Thanks for leading us toward thinking our way out of the pit we have ended up in.

Will she continue the "Digging Of Holes"

I’d say we’ve been a state of perpetual war since around 1940 – at least in terms of spending, staffing, etc. The founding fathers were again right about this issue – like most everything else.

This is insanity.

In case my original post didn't come across correctly, it was dripping with sarcasm. I am appalled and depressed by our current state of affairs, not the least of which is that we've now been at war for an entire generation. You'd think people would be furious about this, but it barely registers a blip. Nothing feels real to me anymore except the chase for money and fame.

When American "exceptionalism" is turned into "superiority," this arrogance becomes a form of stupidity--because it blinds these "uber-patriots" to what the object of their scorn is capable of, or willing to do.

This flag-waving, fist-shaking, over-the-top jingoism predictably turns into a xenophobic excess.

We think we can have it all to the point that we think we should be able to have it all--all in the name of supposedly being a nation "under God."

This attitude ferments into marginalizing other nations, cultures, customs, and sensibilities.

When these entities resist our "entreaties," our leaders subtly
"demonize" these "aberrations" from our supposedly "superior" way of life.

A perpetual state of war can then ensue.

And how many of these other entities peoples live longer lives than our overly competitive population???

Finally, regarding Lindbergh's "isolationism," how close was Lindbergh to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis? And was this "isolationism" a ploy to keep America out of the wider world to let the Nazis have "free rein" in their war of conquest?

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