Thursday, July 22, 2004

Oh no, the Military's Out of Money... and, um... people!

Says the Washington Post today (July 22, 2004): "The U.S. military has spent most of the $65 billion that Congress approved for fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is scrambling to find $12.3 billion more from within the Defense Department to finance the wars through the end of the fiscal year, federal investigators said yesterday."

And here I thought the War in Iraq was supposed to be free. You know, because we would sell their oil to pay for it. Free war! It would be a big old violent hippie party! Nope. Not free.

Now, as the military tries to dig up some scratch it's also having a tough time recruiting new soldiers. See, it's not easy to get people the join the Army when we're engaged in two foreign occupations, have called the National Guards and Reserves into service and have forced soldiers to stay on for additional tours after their commitments are up. Everyone who signs up now knows they're headed for war before they get any free college out of the deal.

This just compounds the Pentagon's budget problem, of course. The military needs more money just to fund its present operations and if it needs to recruit and train more soldiers, it will need more money on top of that.

So, what do we do?

Here's an outrageous suggestion: We stop fighting so many wars. If the military has a recruitment problem, then that's basically the American people saying, by not enlisting, that they just aren't willing to die for the causes we've been fighting lately. If the military has a budget problem, that means that the administration has used it irresponsibly because the Pentagon is and has been rather generously funded over the years.

If we had focused only on Afghanistan, which was a legitimate and, I think, necessary target after 9-11, we would not have to pony up more dough to our khaki gun toters and we would have plenty of ready, volunteer forces to deal with any emergency. Just one unnecssary war changed all of that.

I'm really not sure why this isn't a huge scandal. Carter was accused of weakening the military by not spending enough on it. Well, Bush has weakened the military by using it to fight an optional war that has strained its resources, hurt it's ability to recruit and will force American tax payers to divert money away from educational and social programs in order to keep the Pentagon afloat.


At 11:12 AM , Blogger tifanie said...

You're exactly right, of course. It frustruates me that not only is this not a huge scandal, nothing that SHOULD be IS. Being in SF, of course, I'm surrounded by people who care about these things and stand on the street corners begging for signatures. But the signatures do little, and most Americans prefer the bliss of ignorance. Our habit of inaction is crippling, our nationalism is blinding, and the innumerable lies of our government and media have become deafening.

Mike, I think you should be our president.


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