Joe Lieberman isn’t just a surge fan, he’s a Mark Steyn reader as well. Sweet, sweet centrism — now featuring the far right!
This morning, the White House sent its $2.9 trillion budget proposal to Congress, requesting “an additional $100 billion for Iraq and the global war on terrorism this year, on top of $70 billion already sought. For 2008, that spending would drop to $145 billion and fall to $50 billion in 2009, although administration officials conceded that the 2008 and 2009 requests could go higher depending on the progress of the war effort.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, total spending on the Iraq war for fiscal years 2001 through 2006 was $318.5 billion. The Bush budget would bring total proposed spending in Iraq to $683 billion through 2009. Last month, the Los Angeles Times warned the cost of the Iraq war would soon eclipse the total amount spent on the Vietnam war:
By the time the Vietnam war ended in 1975, it had become America’s longest war, shadowed the legacies of four presidents, killed 58,000 Americans along with many thousands more Vietnamese, and cost the U.S. more than $660 billion in today’s dollars.
This budget would break that mark, and the spending blueprint does not take into account other costs of the Iraq war, such as future health care costs for injured soldiers.
In Feb. 2005, President Bush visited U.S. troops stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany and thanked them for “serving our great land.”
But that gratitude extends only so far. Those U.S. troops in Wiesbaden — and others stationed in Europe — will no longer receive welcome-home celebrations from the U.S. military. Stars and Stripes reports that the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) is cutting troop celebrations in an effort to save money:
In response to continuing financial strains, U.S. Army Europe has canceled all welcome home celebrations for units returning from deployment through this fiscal year, halting the tradition of free food, rides and other community festivities for returning soldiers and their families.
While USAREUR cited cost-saving reasons for its decision to cut the celebrations, it was “unable to say how much the command would save by canceling the events, or what a celebration typically costs.” One of the largest units to be affected by the decision will be the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade, based in Friedberg, Germany. It has been in Iraq since Jan. 2006, and was supposed to come home in January, but had its deployment extended by six weeks.
As Fred Steube, a Vietnam veteran and organizer of a May 2005 welcome-home celebration for Arkansas National Guard and Reserve members, noted, these celebrations are a way “to give these troops the welcome home we never got. … This celebration is the least we could do to express our gratitude.”
As Kevin Drum reminded us with regard to John Edwards, any politician worth his salt should be able to tailor his message to his audience. Certainly that’s the case with Jonathan Singer’s interview with DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer, at least judging by his ability to absolutely lavish praise on bloggers and the netroots. That said, you’ve got to go by what you have to go by, and saying good things to liberal audiences is better than saying bad things to liberal audiences. And I found Schumer’s words on Iran encouraging.:
Iran was never discussed, and I could not imagine – maybe there are one or two Democrats in the Senate who believe the AUMF authorizes the President to go into Iran. Should he try to go into Iran without an AUMF will do everything we can to try to stop that. . .
I have always believed in foreign policy, particularly when your nation was attacked – not only my nation but my city was attacked – you tend to give the chief executive the benefit of the doubt to defend us. That doesn’t mean a carte blanche. But you never give someone who has been so bad the second benefit of the doubt. I think anything the President asks for with Iran is going to be received with extreme dubiousness, certainly by me, by the Democratic Senate and by the American people. I mean he says there are weapons of mass destruction in Iran, people are going to think twice before believing it. If he says this is an immediate danger to the US, people are going to think twice before believing it. If he says military force is the only way to deal with this problem, people are going to thing 20 times before believing it.
I could imagine better words to offer on this subject, but that’s pretty good, and it’s significant because Schumer’s really something of a bellweather hawk, the kind of guy who backed the Iraq War but doesn’t have any deep, Lieberman-esque intellectual commitment to warmongering or a political strategy in which hawkishness plays a key role.
Lots of folks have been rightly indignant that Bill Kristol apparently believes the latest carnage in Iraq demonstrates that the insurgents are getting “worried.” One might only note that this line of thought goes all the way back to the August 2003 bombing that killed Sergio Vieira di Mello and proved to sensible people that the Iraq operation was, in fact, going much, much, much less well than the Bush administration would like you to believe. You can see David Adesnik’s extensive defense of the proposition that these early outbreaks of violence were signs of imminent American success (see also here). For the other perspective on whether massive violence in Iraq was actually a good thing, you can see Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum. I think it’s fairly clear which side the verdict of history came down on.
Kristol, in short, is trying to ply his audience with stale bread here.
Dave Noon catches what might be considered some more novel rhetoric in that same Kristol clip where he suggests that the people responsible for this massive bombing attack that killed well over 100 people were “try[ing] to convey an impression of chaos.” This is, perhaps, the insurgent side of Green Lantern geopolitics. Great powers like the United States achieve our objectives through “unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will” whereas assymetrical adversaries will try to convey an impression of chaos.
This is, obviously, appealing not only to members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, but also to their elders and betters on Fox News. If the problem is chaos, then it’s a problem that’s either unsolvable, or else has to be solved by soldiers doing work on the ground. But if the problem is merely an impression of chaos then the work of our soldiers and Marines is secondary. The real battle is fought on the airwaves, on the op-ed pages, and in the blogs. Who has the courage to stand and stifle this impression of chaos? To replace it with an impression of order? A daunting challenge, to be sure, but Bill Kristol is ready for it.