See here. Does anyone actually pay attention to Bill Kristol? If Rupert Murdoch decided tomorrow that he didn’t want to subsidize Kristol’s magazine and pay him to appear on his television network, would someone snap him up?
I wrote this morning that it would make a lot more sense to spend the money we’re spending in Iraq on promoting universal education instead, and John Edwards said exactly that in the midst of answering a question about Pakistan.
Last night, over drinks, I wound up in one of those “if liberals like humanitarianism, why don’t you want o indefinitely prolong the hopeless and catastrophic war in Iraq?” arguments and I have, naturally enough, a bunch of Iraq-related answers.
When Gene Sperling got to talking this morning about his work with the Global Campaign for Education, aimed at ensuring every child on the planet a chance to go to primary school, though, I got downright anrgy about this sort of humanitarian rationale for Iraq. The crux of the matter is that Sperling’s big, longshot legislative dream is this bill sponsored by Senators Hillary Clinton and Gordon Smith “to require the United States to do its fair share — up to $3 billion dollars by 2012 — in meeting the Millennium Development Goal promise of universal education by 2015.” He was very excited that Senators Obama and Edwards have also committed to spending $2-$3 billion on this.
Meanwhile, for 2008 the White House says we need to spend $5.3 billion on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, making me fairly certain the Iraq share alone is worth more than $3 billion. The National Priorities Project sees about $450 billion as having already been spent on Iraq. If you’d taken that as a lump sum and put it in a safe investment vehicle that secured you a very modest 2 percent real rate of return per year, you’d have about triple what Sperling was looking for.
Now, obviously, you wouldn’t actually want to finance global education spending that way, but it’s telling as a thought experiment about the bankruptcy of a lot of the “humanitarian” rationales that have been offered for the war.
Years ago, Matt Miller introduced me to the concept of “Still True Today” — the basic point being that a lot of the most important facts in the world rarely get reported because they don’t constitute “news.” The blogosphere, unfortunately, really hasn’t done much to ameliorate this. I could, for example, write a post every single day about how hundreds of millions of people around the world are living in absolutely deplorable conditions and we ave the power to substantially ameliorate that. But I don’t, because there’s no peg.
This morning, though, I’m attending a ONE Campaign panel on just this, so I do have the opportunity. I don’t have any real expertise or analysis to offer on the subject of aid per se, but from a blogging/activist point of view, I’ll simply say that this is a topic where a quite broad range of elites are eager to see US policies changed — it’s a very bipartisan group. What’s lacking is evidence of a mass constituency that particularly cares, which, I guess, is where the idea of netroots outreach comes in. At any rate, this is probably the most important issue there is.