Posts Tagged ‘war spending’

Today, President Obama came to my town to give an invite-only speech at the University of Texas. Lacking an invite, I wondered what people with invites had to say about the Afghanistan War. Here’s what I found:

All the people who had tickets to the event who consented to be interviewed and who gave an opinion for or against are in this video, and their views are fairly represented. Of course, that’s not a surprise, given the levels of public disgust with this war, the higher levels of opposition among Democrats and the likely makeup of the invitee crowd.

Most Americans — 54 percent — think the U.S. should set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Forty-one percent disagree.

There is a partisan divide on the issue: 73 percent of Democrats think the U.S. should set a timetable, while only 32 percent of Republicans say the U.S. should do so. Fifty-four percent of independents want a timetable.

What is surprising, though, is the “heads down, follow through” attitude on the part of our elected leaders.

Poll: Afghanistan War Hurting Obama’s Support at Home

Poll: Afghanistan War Deeply Unpopular, Dragging Down Presidential Approval

Afghan War Looms As Electoral Problem

Ever heard of a thing called an election?

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It looks like reports of an escalation’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

This weekend, Obama’s National Security Advisor, Jim Jones, went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” to let us know that he never told commanders in Afghanistan that they’d have to make do with what they had. And, General McChrystal gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal to raise alarms about Taliban momentum, interpreted by many as laying groundwork for a troop increase request. However, as MSNBC reported on Monday night that McChrystal is pushing back hard against the WSJ’s characterization of his words, which raises questions about the WSJ’s agenda. Regardless, multiple analysts and commentators in multiple media indicate that McChrystal will likely require more troops to implement what is known of his upcoming strategy recommendations.

In other words: unless we push back, hard, another escalation could be on its way.

There are a million reasons to oppose a troop increase in Afghanistan, but if you need just one, you might as well go with “cost.” Here’s a quick video using excerpts from Rethink Afghanistan Part Three: The Cost of War to drive the point home:

Here’s a chart from War Resisters League showing the rising cost of the so-called “War on Terror,” which includes Afghanistan:

War Resisters League bar chart

Much of this spending is financed through debt. As Geithner’s comments show, we do not have the luxury of indefinite deficit war spending. In fact, such spending helped create the economic crisis in the first place, as Stiglitz and Bilmes show in The Three Trillion Dollar War. As I wrote last month, “We have limits. Failure to consciously decide on those limits before we make further decisions does not mean those limits do not exist; it only means that we will be incrementally pushed toward and then past them, painfully and to our regret, before we discover them.”

We cannot afford continued war spending in Afghanistan, much less an escalation.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently said on ABC News’ “This Week” that U.S. deficits were unsustainable and had to be brought under control if our economy were going to fully recover.

U.S. policies in Afghanistan, however, undermine this goal. As Sunday’s Washington Post points out, our deepening involvement in Afghanistan will eventually cost more than the Iraq war. We cannot afford it.

Watch Part Three of Rethink Afghanistan to learn more about the unsustainable costs of the war in Afghanistan.