BANG FOR THE BUCK

On Friday and Saturday the United States engaged in yet another round of essentially the only thing we're good at anymore in international affairs: pulverizing a hot, sandy, minimally developed country with a barrage of high-tech firepower launched from hundreds of miles away. It comes from over the horizon and by the time you know it's there, it's already too late. Since Gulf War I, American foreign policy has been built around the ability to launch precision airstrikes and missile attacks at a moment's notice, combining the two characteristics so politically desirable these days: maximum destruction and minimum losses. Air strikes and distant missile launches expose American servicepeople to very little risk, so anything that can be accomplished with no (American) body count…well, if you were President, why wouldn't you do it?

The cruise missile is what really makes this possible, and none are more advanced than the Tomahawk. With a 1,250+ mile range, the missile goes from the decks of a U.S. Navy ship to a faraway target in about an hour. Just fire it and forget about it. Neat toy, if you're into that sort of thing. And boy are we into it.

Over the weekend the U.S. contributed to the U.N. declared suppression of Libyan air power with, among other things, 124 Tomahawk missiles. In 2011 dollars the unit replacement cost is about $750,000. Apiece. So in the span of a few hours and for reasons that very few non-AEI employed Americans would find compelling, Uncle Sam just spent $93 million dollars.

That doesn't count the thousands of gallons of aviation fuel and other ordnance dropped on Libya, the cost of repositioning assets, the $1.02 billion B-2 bombers used for daytime strikes, and so on. Even if American involvement in the conflict is brief, there is little doubt that the total monetary cost of our military action will approach or even exceed a quarter of a billion dollars. As usual, this money gets spent without thirty seconds of debate in Congress and with nothing but glee from the voting public. Hoo boy, can't wait until the Wings Over Libya on the Military Channel brings us the nose camera footage.

But teachers sure do make a lot of money, amirite? Maybe we should spend another week on that $60 million NPR got last year.

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44 Responses to “BANG FOR THE BUCK”

  1. The Man, The Myth Says:

    I hate leaving this comment – oil oil oil. This is another war for oil. We fucking kissed Gadaffi just two years ago because of his oil and now we can come in here and steal it again.

  2. Fortygeek Says:

    Thank you for putting into print that which I was too fucking frustrated to say myself.

  3. John Says:

    One of the great sins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries was the conversion of War from a heavily-disliked yet sometimes-necessary strain on the populace, into War the teevee show.

    The advent of modern remote weapons systems has removed an extremely important component of warfare: the cost at home. When War is reduced to a show on the teevee, something that happens in far-away lands but doesn't really affect those here in the country, the populace becomes much more complacent about letting it happen. Nobody cares about how much the war costs, either in money or in lives, because it's not *their* family members coming home in bodybags, and it's not *their* wallet feeling a pinch.

    This, of course, works out quite well for the MIC, which makes quite a handy profit off of the continual, unlimited production of weapons at the taxpayers' expense. An expense which, simultaneously, is shifted off of those who have a vested financial interest in the MIC and the government that enables it, and onto the working class and the poor via the refusal to raise taxes to pay for wars, and the slashing of social programs instead.

  4. Patrick Says:

    Government budgets should be run like a household budget when it comes to education and other public services, but when we're talking about defense budgets, those should be run by tweakers with someone else's credit cards.

    I can't accurately convey how much I fucking loathe the "government as household" bullshit, especially when it's conveniently forgotten when it comes to blowing some shit in another country up.

  5. Noskilz Says:

    It is rather telling how the GOP doesn't seem to be worried about how much this sort of thing costs at all. Granted their budgetary posturing tends to be just for show, but that is really underscored in situations like this.

    How much of a stockpile of things like the tomahawk do we have? I know that whatever is expended will have to be replaced sooner or later, but is there any sense of how much of what's been used could be considered already paid for and what amount of it will wind up in a presumably off-the-books accounting appropriations bill in the near future? Granted, hoping some reasonable fraction of those cruise missles and bombs are excess to our actual needs is probably strip mining for a silver lining, but it's not as if one has a great deal to be hopeful about at the moment.

  6. Southern Beale Says:

    I heard the Tomahawks are $1 million a piece. That's what folks on The Twittah were saying. I have no clue because I spent a lot of time trying to find that out. I just know that I'm turned off by the breathless media coverage, the hard-on our news organizations have for bombs bursting in air.

    I did a post on this over the weekend. I do think we are watching the empire die.

    Hey anyone wonder why the fucking Chinese don't spend all of their treasure dropping million-dollar bombs?

  7. Talisker Says:

    Some perspective is in order here, on two counts.

    First, $250 million is a lot of money by most standards, but not compared to the mind-boggling size of the $1 trillion US defence budget. An analogy: Suppose that you went to Vegas, spent $250 on a hotel room, and lost $1 million at the blackjack tables. It is not the cost of the hotel which made your trip into a financial disaster.

    Second, the Obama administration is for obvious reasons wary of being seen to bomb yet another Muslim country into the Stone Age, and is seeking to leave as many of the air strikes as possible to other countries (principally the UK and France).

    Whether anyone should be bombing Libya in the first place is an entirely different question, but complaining about the financial cost is something of a red herring. At best, the tiny cost of this attack in relation to total US defence spending is a useful illustration of just how bloated the Pentagon budget is.

    (BTW — long-time reader, first-time commenter, and congratulations on a generally excellent blog.)

  8. a Says:

    Hey anyone wonder why the fucking Chinese don't spend all of their treasure dropping million-dollar bombs?

    They are saving them for when we run out – just like US$ & With us using ours, they don't have to use theirs!

  9. cromartie Says:

    I'm sure I'm going to take some crap for this.

    If you want to have this argument during peacetime, or within the framework of Bush the younger's decision to invade Iraq when it wasn't necessary, I have no problem siding with you.

    But, frankly, I haven't lost a minute of sleep over this one. When a despot starts firing anti-aircraft weapons on his own people, blowing up said planes seems a reasonable response, oil or no oil. When a geopolitical unit overtly sponsors a terrorist organization that suicide bombs a couple of skyscrapers, bombing them into the stone age and removing them from power is a perfectly reasonable response (however, that response should include an exit strategy).

    But piggy backing the MIC arguments, valid though they may be, onto military actions that are popular or are largely legitimate and are remote control military actions, strategically doesn't really help the issue.

    The abstract argument that the MIC is bankrupting us ends up being pretty weak against B Roll footage of dead and wounded Libyans being carted into hospitals, you know?

    ***
    The reason that the remote control war is so appealing is because the rate of refusal of troops to fire on others was incredibly high in previous wars. (Only about 25% of troops in WWII were willing to fire on the enemy without first being fired upon). The military found first that the more you could legitimize killing during training the more killing troops would be able to do so. But even this had it's limits, so they adopted the remote kill strategy you see today.

  10. HoosierPoli Says:

    We're not in the post-imperial age yet, the more Bush-style quagmires we turn into Clinton-style hit-and runs, the better.

  11. almostpacifist Says:

    At this moment the situation in the Middla East could be more and more unstable and could lead into several wars. I know president Obama did not want to do it. He had a hard time with the concept of attacking yet another country. BUT- it was not only his descission – many civilized countries decided that it is important to stop it now, before many more are murdered. I was in the Middle east 3 weeks ago. Some educated African people were criticizing Gadhafi for enslaving many poor foreign African boys to do his dirty job and kill his own people. It was going on for decades. They fully agreed with some kind of help. Many times we have to choose the lesser of two evils.

  12. Monkey Business Says:

    Normally, I'm not in favor of blowing another country back to the Stone Age, especially when they're not all that far from it to begin with. However, when you have an unpopular dictator using military aircraft against protesters armed with rocks, I'm not opposed to removing the dictator's ability to use said aircraft.

    That being said, if one American solider steps foot on Libyan soil, I'm going to be pissed.

    I have no problem with our remote war strategy. Strictly speaking, it's better than the alternative, which is a massive ground invasion.

  13. Kulkuri Says:

    The irony of this is that when the cruise missiles were being developed, those working on the guidance systems (Northrop if I remember right) didn't worry about the fact that some of the guidance systems didn't work. It is rumored that the people working on the guidance systems said that they'll never be used, so why worry about it. That was back during the Cold War when it didn't matter if a system worked (think Star Wars), the only thing that mattered was numbers of weapons.

  14. Southern Beale Says:

    Heard about this on MSNBC this morning. U.S. media won't talk about it but Der Spiegel published the photos.

    "The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published two photographs depicting U.S. Army soldiers posing next to the corpse of an Afghan civilian moments after he was killed in an incident the Army has classified as a murder."

    There is another, psychic cost of war which can't be assigned a dollar value. And I guess it's one of those things only girlie-men, surrender monkeys and tree-hugging hippies mention …

  15. Southern Beale Says:

    Oh yeah and note from where one of the soldiers hails … Wasilla, Alaska. Sarah must be so proud.

  16. Southern Beale Says:

    When a despot starts firing anti-aircraft weapons on his own people, blowing up said planes seems a reasonable response, oil or no oil.

    Well what makes Libya so special? Despots all around the world are murdering their own people who are trying to achieve democracy. Look at Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. Why aren't we dropping bombs on those places?

    America isn't the world's police man … we're the world's garbage collector, sweeping up the despotic trash in capitals around the globe. Is that it? How ironic that many of those despots were installed by us to begin with.

    I have no problem with us providing humanitarian aid to those in need but I'm definitely leaning in a more isolationist direction these days. It seems whenever we start mucking around in other countries' affairs it never ends well — for us, or for them.

  17. Major Kong Says:

    Color me cynical, but it's not the despot part that we really care about. It's whether or not they go with the program.

    Grant us basing rights and let us run a pipeline through your territory and you can pretty much boil your political opponents alive (Uzbekistan) for all we care.

    Step off the reservation and we're Shocked! Shocked I tell you! to discover that you're a despot.

  18. Scott Says:

    @Southern Beale – Libya is different from Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia because Gadahfi is using his air forces against the protesters. Don't quote me on this, but I believe that using military aircraft against protestors in your own country is a human rights violation. That's why the UN got involved.

    What everyone has to keep in mind here is that (so far) this operation is only the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya – to keep Gadahfi from committing these human rights violations. And while the US is participating, most of the heavy lifting here is being done by the French and British.

    So, yes, I get the hypocrisy. The GOP shouldn't be complaining about the pittance the government gives to NPR or Planned Parenthood when we're spending millions on Tomahawk missiles in Libya. On the other hand, we shouldn't reject any military operation out of hand just because it's a military operation. Sometimes using the military is the right thing to do.

  19. Da Moose Says:

    The bottom line for me, with regard to our military, is that I find it revealing that we only get militarily involved in situations where we know we can kick butt. That is a scenario that only propagates a bully culture both domestically and internationally. I think Obama, because he so badly wants to be loved and accepted by the establishment (military and banking), gives these entities way too much latitude. In the case of Libya, the military is clearly tone deaf to political nuances. For example, I think bombing military convoys and bombing Qaddafi HQ buildings in Tripoli is a serious political miscalculation for two basic reasons. 1. The Libyan military will be the ones who ultimately overthrow Qaddafi. By resorting to what amounts to slaughter of the rank-n-file in the Libyan military such an act actually transfers, in the minds of the populace, political legitimacy from the rebels back to Qaddafi. 2. For a society to experience a full cathartic revolution it must be allowed the opportunity to overthrow its own institutions. By having an outside force affect this type of change, the society is never given the opportunity to experience this catharsis which makes it much less likely that the society as a whole will be able to psychologically evolve away from the culture of repression and authoritarianism from which it struggles to extract itself.

  20. oxus Says:

    @ Major Kong,

    Your comparison would carry more water if you had your facts straight
    Re. Uzbekistan:
    1) we have no pipeline that goes through Uzbekistani territory. Natural gas from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan primarily gets out through Soviet-era Russian pipelines (although the Chinese have recently been able to get into the action a bit). US oil companies helped to establish two lines out of Baku on the other side of the Caspian, but even the lines out of Kazakhstan rely upon Russian infrastructure.

    2) and more importantly, we lost our basing rights in the kerfuffle following the Karimov regime's brutal crackdown in Andijon in 2005. The contract allowing K2 was cancelled because we (slowly) supported the resettling of refugees from the crackdown.

    Does the US have a consistently pro-human rights regarding Uzbekistan (or elsewhere)? No, of course not. We had black sites in Uzbekistan post-2001. Bad things happened there (and still do, even though it has taken on an important role in the northern distribution network). However, when major publicized atrocities have occurred (Khadafiy's and Karimov's actions against civilians) the US has taken stances that have run counter to our more materialist strategic goals.
    So be cynical all you want (God knows, I am about many things), but at least be an informed cynic.

  21. Mike Says:

    "Don't quote me on this, but I believe that using military aircraft against protestors in your own country is a human rights violation. "
    so only some forms of human rights violations are more important than others? Got it.

  22. Fifth Dentist Says:

    @ cromartie

    "When a geopolitical unit overtly sponsors a terrorist organization that suicide bombs a couple of skyscrapers, bombing them into the stone age and removing them from power is a perfectly reasonable response"

    Yeah, good thing we taught those Saudis a thing or two after 9-11! Oh, wait …

  23. jeneria Says:

    I forget: Are we Oceania? Are we at war with Eurasia or Eastasia?

  24. Major Kong Says:

    @oxus

    So are you saying he wasn't a thug prior to 2005 or that we didn't know he was a thug prior to 2005 or that he exceeded some threshold of thuggishness by even our relatively low standards for friendly dictators?

  25. JerseyCynic Says:

    "……but….but..but it's still the best country in the world……."

    ?
    ?
    ?

    If one more person uses this as an excuse for not finishing a conversation with me.

    as I sit in front of the teevee watching another war, I guess I can see how folks have become brainwashed with this comeback (i.e. Wilful ignorance).

    As long as all those tomahawks aren't landing in their town — all is well in the world

    UFB

  26. oxus Says:

    @ Major Kong
    The latter.

    Yes, Karimov was and is a thug. And, of course, the State Department knew about this even before the buffoonery of Craig Murray.

    Khadafiy is a former and present thug.

    But there is a threshold. When mass atrocities are publicized, it is much harder to maintain realpolitik, and the US is forced to engage in actions or rhetoric that are opposed to strategic goals.

    This would especially seem to be the case when the freaking Arab League openly states its support of a no-fly zone (before backing off of that this weekend).

    As cromartie suggests, this current conflict is distinctly different from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. One can (and should) question the utility of the current exercise, but we should be careful of lumping all foreign policy adventures together.

    Thinking about the counter-factual a bit more may help us some: what would have been the long-term consequences -in terms of prestige, regional influence, legitimacy of our evocation human-rights rhetoric (however, insufficient and inconsistent), etc… -if we did not move to establish a no-fly zone?

  27. Scott Says:

    @Mike – Care to be more specific? Otherwise, I'm not sure how to respond to that unassailable logic?

  28. Elle Says:

    That being said, if one American solider steps foot on Libyan soil, I'm going to be pissed.

    I think the Security Council will be pissed-er. Paragraph 4 of SCR. 1973 specifically precludes foreign occupation of Libya.

    Libya is different from Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia because Gadahfi is using his air forces against the protesters.

    Mmm. The international press is reporting that Bahraini protesters were fired on in Pearl Square from helicopters, and cleared using tanks. In Yemen, police made a tire wall in Sanaa, set it on fire, thereby blocking escape routes, and then snipers shot up the trapped crowd from the roofs of buildings.

    SCR. 1973 suggests that the actions in Libya may amount to crimes against humanity. The disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and co-ordinated military action against civilians in the other states you list may also amount to crimes against humanity.

    I'm not suggesting that states should not be taking military action to enforce SCR. 1973, although the Srebrenica massacre of 6000 men and boys took place under the feeble protection of a no-fly zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  29. Scott Says:

    @Elle – You're right that there's a fine line between what Gadahfi's doing in Libya and what's happening elsewhere. Although, I have been following the events in the Middle East rather closely, I haven't heard these reports. I don't doubt them, though. The leader of Yemen is about as bad as any other hated despot in the Middle East and the King of Bahrain appears to be propped up by the Saudis right now. I wouldn't put anything past them.

    If we want to pick this apart, though, what you're saying happened in Yemen and Bahrain is bad, but those things don't amount to crimes against humanity (the helicopter, notwithstanding). Using the explosives aboard military fighter jets is something else. The events in Yemen and Bahrain were two or three steps beyond what happened in the US during the riots in the 60s. Bad? Absolutely, yes. Warranting an international response? No.

    What's happening in Libya is different. More people are being attacked and there is a much greater risk of non-participant death here. Think about it like this – the UN Security Council voted unanimously to implement the No-Fly over Libya. To get China and Russia to agree that this is worth doing, that's saying something.

  30. Southern Beale Says:

    @Scott:

    What everyone has to keep in mind here is that (so far) this operation is only the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya – to keep Gadahfi from committing these human rights violations.

    We're dropping bombs and shooting missiles. I fail to see the morality in that.

    I guess I'm just reflexively anti-war.

  31. Elle Says:

    If we want to pick this apart, though, what you're saying happened in Yemen and Bahrain is bad, but those things don't amount to crimes against humanity

    The Rome Statute is quite clear on the definition of 'crime against humanity':

    "For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

    (a) Murder;
    (b) Extermination;
    (c) Enslavement;
    (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
    (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
    (f) Torture;
    (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
    (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3 [of the statute] or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the [International Criminal] Court;
    (i) Enforced disappearance of persons;
    (j) The crime of apartheid;
    (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health."

  32. Elle Says:

    @Scott –

    Sorry, missed the last bit of your comment. I'm not sure I'd characterise China and Russia's abstentions as 'agreement'. Germany's abstention was also somewhat surprising, in that they allied themselves with the BRIC countries, rather than NATO. However, in terms of domestic politics, it makes a kind of sense, in that they have elections coming up and foreign adventures play terribly in Germany.

  33. Phillip Says:

    There's a point to this blog post which is being lost a little bit in the back and forth over the justifiability-or-not of the Libya intervention. Whatever your view on that point, surely we can all agree that when America is willing to launch at least $66 million (the conservative estimate) worth of Tomahawks in ONE day, any talk of eliminating or severely curtailing federal funding for NPR or the NEA on grounds of fiscal responsibility is farcical at best.

  34. Paul W. Luscher Says:

    Well, as someone once said, American foreign policy is essentially a military policy.

    Second, while on a gut level, I cheer coming in on the side of the rebels, the rational brain wonders how this will work out. I don't think this will be as clean and easy a job as we think. We tend to forget that it is much easier to get into a war than to get out of one, and I understand we are plunging into this without any idea of how to end it…sound familiar?

    And of course, another thing is…can we really continue to keep fighting one war after another…considering the shape our country is in, to boot? (Always amazing how we have PLENTY of money to fight wars, even though we're told otherwise that "we're broke.")

    Think we are beguiled by our faith in super high-tech weapons into thinking we can fight this cheap and quick, without any ground commitments. But as all wars since World War I have shown us, wars aren't won by air power alone. So nothing would surprise me if we end up having to put ground troops in….

  35. Elle Says:

    So nothing would surprise me if we end up having to put ground troops in….

    Without another Security Council resolution? There are a whole range of European states involved in enforcing the no-fly, and I can't think that any would be rushing to breach SCR. 1973.

    The messaging coming from Downing Street is almost exclusively about how this intervention is not like Iraq. I think the appetite in the UK for boots on the ground in Libya, with the rumbling still going on about the (possibly) unlawful war that Blair dragged us into, is hovering close to zero.

    France is doing some agonising of its own, with a big piece in Le Monde today about command structures, NATO, and the possibly inflammatory impact on the Middle East of the alliance being over-identified with it.

    The word 'tinderbox' is vastly overused when talking about the Middle East, but I can't think of anything stupider than anyone currently in the alliance starting a ground campaign without even the flimsiest pretext of a UN mandate.

  36. Middle Seaman Says:

    We got used to wars; we started to like them. It's not just remote control war we like so much, we also "enjoy" those that kill thousands of our kids and hundred of thousands of people that "don't count."

    Obama is now the initiator of two wars. He has several opportunities before his term expires; please hold your breath.

    Qaddafi is a despot, but he is only one of many. What about Mugabe, the Ivory Coast, Yemen, The Assads of Syria, and many others? It's not the despot that makes us tick, it's the oil (said in the very first comment) and we like wars.

  37. oxus Says:

    @ Middle Seaman.

    Could one of you we-fight-all-wars-for-oil (and because we have small penises) people explain to me the rationale. I am seriously perplexed by the implications of this black and white argument.

    IF we were solely interested in oil, shouldn't we cheer for (or even support) the incumbent regime's efforts to wipe out the rebels? That would allow Libyan oil production to more quickly return to previous levels. It would seem that establishing a no-fly zone (with no stated plan to put boots on the ground or to target individuals within the regime) has a much higher probability of further disrupting the oil supply than it does of getting oil production back on track.

    Can one of you folks enlighten me a bit here?

  38. cromartie Says:

    any talk of eliminating or severely curtailing federal funding for NPR or the NEA on grounds of fiscal responsibility is farcical at best.

    Please. The entire Republican Party platform is farcical, yet we're required to act as if it should be taken seriously every other year.

    @fifth dentist

    The Taliban openly controlled the Afghanistan government apparatus, the ringleaders of 9/11 were trained there, they harbored Osama Bin Laden openly . There are plenty of cultural conditions on both sides of the world that set us up for terrorism (an overt influence of religion and lack of economic opportunity being two of them), and Saudi Arabia has it in spades. But Afghanistan was the centerpiece.

    Fault the Bush Administration plenty for having no end game, and not getting Bin Laden, and rightfully so.

  39. DS Says:

    Cromartie, why is Libya using warplanes to fire on their own people worthy of a massive, multi-billion dollar intervention, while people getting hacked-up with machetes and gang-raped to death in the Congo not? Or people starving to death or dying of thirst in Darfur because a rebel group is keeping people away from their crops or water supply by armed force? Or, I don't know, Americas BFF Saudi Arabia coming to the aid of their friends in Bahrain and massacring a bunch of people. I await your answer. Because I can tell you what the perception is in Asia and Africa: the American government is a bunch of hypocritical fuckers who cloak their own self-interest in the guise of humanitarianism when their interests are affected but could not give one fuck about people in the Congo, Zimbabwe, or dear God don't make me go on. I guess what you are suggesting is that the image of rockets and jets flying about is more interesting for the media than the slow, grinding death of human rights violations elsewhere. That is pathetic and I would hope that this makes you re-evaluate your viewpoint.

  40. Patrick Says:

    @cromartie

  41. Elle Says:

    Cromartie, why is Libya using warplanes to fire on their own people worthy of a massive, multi-billion dollar intervention, while people getting hacked-up with machetes and gang-raped to death in the Congo not? Or people starving to death or dying of thirst in Darfur because a rebel group is keeping people away from their crops or water supply by armed force?

    Not Cromartie, but a really short, unnuanced answer to this question is 'China'. All of the Security Council resolutions involving Darfur have been watered down under Chinese influence, and China has threatened to use its veto to prevent the use of an embargo on trade. (This is fairly significant in terms of the Security Council, where China doesn't tend to use its veto for issues that pertain to countries other than itself.) Ditto DRC, where China has filled the imperialism gap, and is (arguably) DRC's most significant economic 'partner'.

    Of course, the US's commitment to international criminal law was weak during the Bush years, and it was the only permanent SC member to abstain on the motion referring the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC). (Although public statements made by the US at the time offered support to the process, even while the attitude of the US was hostile to the Court itself, and the US 'unsigned' the Rome Statute.) It will be interesting to see if the Obama administration's positive engagement with the Court bears much fruit.

  42. Elle Says:

    *only permanent SC member to abstain on the motion other than China referring the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

  43. Patrick Says:

    @cromartie:

    But piggy backing the MIC arguments, valid though they may be, onto military actions that are popular or are largely legitimate and are remote control military actions, strategically doesn't really help the issue.

    The abstract argument that the MIC is bankrupting us ends up being pretty weak against B Roll footage of dead and wounded Libyans being carted into hospitals, you know?

    What Qadaffi was doing to his own people was horrendous. It is also, unfortunately, not unique. Robert Mugabe has done it to his people. Whatever scumbag is running the show in Yemen is doing to his people. The ruling junta formerly known as SLORC has done it to their people. We didn't lift a finger in Zimbabwe or Myanmar, and we aren't lifting a finger in Yemen. I hate to be an asshole about this, but did the Libyan people just win the We're Going To Broadcast Your Suffering lottery? Is that really all that is different? Libyan suffering was broadcast to the world at a time when we were primed for this kind of activity by the events in Tunisia and Egypt, but not so much on the others?

    I understand realpolitik. I understand sometimes you get the support of the world's largest democracy and then sometimes you get arrested and have your fingernails pulled out with pliers. Challenging authoritarian governments is a gamble that way.

    What I don't accept is that what's going on here with our budget is abstract. Something that doesn't look abstract to me is the probable re-emergence of infectious diseases suppressed for years by immunization programs, programs that are slated to be cut. What also doesn't look abstract to me are the hundreds of thousands of kids that states like mine want to boot off CHIP.

    What does look abstract to me is the concept that we don't have enough money to take care of our nation's children in need but we somehow can't be bothered to count pennies when it comes to waging war.

    That's bullshit.