Zero Based Terrorism
By Philip Giraldi
There is every indication that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives will support an open ended policy to “win” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, giving President Barack Obama a free pass to pursue any option he chooses, even if it entails an endless series of escalations. The Republicans would also support extending the war on terror to include the most recent bÃªte noir Yemen and the perennial favorite Somalia. The only fly in the ointment is the presence of a substantial bloc of Tea Party Republicans in the new majority, a group that might be inclined to reflexively support American imperialism in all its glory but will almost certainly be opposed to paying for it through higher taxes and an expansion of the military to actually do the fighting.
Before actually voting on any continuing resolution or new budget, it would behoove the Tea Partiers to do some loss versus gain budget analysis on the nine years of war on terror. The Obama Administration has recently revealed that it is budgeting $80 billion for intelligence programs for 2011. That figure is almost certainly too low, probably by at least 25%, as many programs are hidden in other budgets or secretly funded because of their sensitivity. And it is reasonable to assume that the intelligence budget has been at that elevated level since 9/11, meaning that something close to a trillion dollars has been spent. If one also includes part of the defense budget, which has doubled since 2001 based on the terrorist threat, the numbers are staggering, with Washington spending a minimum of two to three trillion dollars countering the terrorist menace, creating a massive governmental and private sector infrastructure ostensibly dedicated to keeping Americans safe.
And now, in the wake of a series of letter bombs which did not explode and did no damage, the call is for increased security, almost certainly costing many more billions of dollars which will enrich former senior officials like Michael Chertoff. Chertoff, who headed the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, now is a partner in a company that sells security equipment for airports. He has been on television frequently since the first letter bomb was discovered, recommending better and more intrusive security without revealing in any way his own ties to the industry that provides the necessary equipment. He is not alone. Security has become a vast and lucrative enterprise for those in position to cash in. If America’s visible empire is its string of hundreds of bases and deployments worldwide, the hidden empire is the military industrial complex with tentacles into nearly every congressional district that supports the endeavor.
Reject the Welfare/Warfare State
By Ron Paul
Last week’s midterm elections have been characterized as a victory for grassroots Americans who are fed up with Washington and the political status quo. In particular, the elections are being touted as a clear indicator that voters demand reductions in federal spending, deficits, and debt.
If the new Congress hopes to live up to the expectations of Tea Party voters, however, it faces some daunting choices. For all the talk about pork and waste, the truth is that Congress cannot fix the budget and get our national debt under control by trimming fat and eliminating earmarks for “Bridges to Nowhere.”
Real reductions in federal spending can be achieved only by getting to the meat of the federal budget, meaning expenditures in all areas. The annual budget soon will be $5 trillion unless Congress takes serious steps to reduce spending for entitlements, military, and debt service. Yet how many Tea Party candidates who campaigned on a platform of spending cuts talked about Social Security, Medicare, foreign wars, or bond debt?
With regard to entitlements, the 2010 Social Security and Medicare Trustees report tells it all. It paints a stark picture of two entitlement programs that cannot be sustained under even the rosiest scenarios of economic growth. No one, regardless of political stripe, can deny the fundamental problem of unfunded future liabilities in both programs.