Ilana Mercer, September 11, 2003

At a time when there is an army of nine million unemployed Americans (and these are officially finessed figures), Americans are expected to place a couple of countries on the payroll ~ilana

The Iraq quagmire and its ever-mutating justifications show that George W. Bush is oblivious to a basic principle of his own conservative ideology: Top-down central planning—economic or political—is doomed to fail.


In the process of pursuing some sort of neoconservative “Manifest Destiny,” President Bush has junked the American Constitution—it gave him no authority to “promote” global freedom, democracy or nation-building with blood and treasure not his own.


In his latest address to the nation, Mr. Bush spoke of more sacrifice (not his own) and promised to “do what is necessary . . . spend what is necessary to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure.”


To people who are compos mentis, it is obvious that these abstractions are not advanced by leveling one country (Iraq), and driving another (the U.S.) to the economic precipice. Where does it say that defending the homeland must translate into bringing about “the triumph of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan and beyond,” as Mr. Bush said in his address? Security and peace are served better by circling the wagons at home.


The President’s overheated rhetoric about the Middle East becoming a place of “progress and peace”; his prophetic visions of “tyrants falling and resentment giving way to hope, as men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace”—this is the political equivalent of speaking in tongues. At best, it’s ahistoric. Yet the American people are lapping it up.


The kind of faith Americans seem to have in the ruling crusts has dulled the outcry at the President’s $87-billion “emergency-funding request” in lieu of the adventures in “Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere” through next year, an amount greater than the world gives annually in foreign aid for all countries.


Initially, the Bush administration had pegged the costs of the war at $65 billion, total. Recall, Iraqi oil revenues were going to pay for this unconstitutional exercise. Like other little pesky details (the missing WMD come to mind), the administration has neglected to mention that, because of the ongoing sabotage and erratic power supply (courtesy of the invaders), oil revenue will barely reach $7 billion.


The war in Iraq, destined to be shouldered entirely by the American people, is costing an estimated $5 billion a month, and Mr. Bush has shown no compunction about taking the nation from black to red. Spending levels across the board are roughly 24 percent higher than when Bill Clinton left office. This so-called conservative President has yet to veto one spending bill. We now have a deficit of approximately $500 billion (without war costs).


This means we’re into Keynesian deficit spending—the government is borrowing and inflating the money supply to fund its profligacy, a practice that will accelerate the depreciation of the dollar, and may even lead to the horror of hyperinflation. While Mr. Bush was making a commotion about returning plunder to the people in the form of a tax cut, he was focused just as keenly on increasing the ceiling on a whopping $6.8 trillion national debt.


At a time when there is an army of nine million unemployed Americans (and these are officially finessed figures), Americans are expected to place a couple of countries on the payroll. A large portion of the new budget will go toward funding expensive and expansive bureaucracies. The New York Times reported that the civilian side of the occupation is expected to cost $30 billion over the next year. Once ensconced, these fiefdoms become self-perpetuating, interminable and parasitical, forming a permanent drain on the private economy and the American taxpayer.


The warfare state is more costly than the welfare state, and just as intractable.


The truth is, we are bogged down in Iraq. The 140,000 troops now on the ground are going nowhere. There are only 21,000 non-American troops; at most, we can expect an additional 15,000 more by next year. Meanwhile, 289 Americans are dead.* This includes the 148 who’ve died since the President declared victory. Nobody in office is willing to render the Iraqi death count.


The truth is that the U.S. is desperate. Yet it continues to conduct itself with insolence, prompting o
ne senior Western envoy to ponder “whether the world is ready to pick the United States up off the floor and dust [it] off.”


For those of us who believe the lessons lie in rejecting what the U.S. has become, and reviving the legacy of this great nation’s founders, there’s no better time to quote the memorable but oh-so-ironic 1821 words of secretary of state John Quincy Adams: “America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher of the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”


Mr. Bush’s “bring ’em on” bravado has been a disaster. The time has come for some bring-’em-home humility.



* Casualty numbers are 443 as of 12/5/2003, and rising daily.


(Appeared also in the Globe And Mail)
September 11, 2003

CATEGORIES: Bush, Debt, Economy, Foreign Policy, Inflation, Iraq, Neoconservatism, War, WMD