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Feb 20 2012

The GOP’s Love for Wars and Tax Cuts

Last year I had the pleasure of sharing a long ride in a towncar from La Guardia to Pocantico, a conference center on the Rockefeller estate near Sleepy Hollow, with Steve Clemons for a conference. The conversation and the conference were both incredibly interesting. He is now working for The Atlantic and writes about the Republican drumbeat for war with Iran and how it conflicts with their endless zeal for lower taxes:

Today, things are fuzzier — but at the highest levels of the national-security decisionmaking tree there is palpable doubt that bombing Iran achieves any fundamental strategic objectives while at the same time ultimately undermining U.S., Israel, and regional security, undermining the global economy. One senior official I heard when asked about bombing Iran then said, “OK, and then what? Then what?! Seriously, then what???” …

It is ridiculous to think that a strike by Israel against Iran, that would in real terms tie the U.S. to the conflict, would not be staggeringly expensive and consequential.

So, it would be interesting to hear from those who want to reside in the White House — and even the Obama administration which has some ‘kinetic action’ advocates on the inside — on what a more sensible financial management strategy for these proliferating conflicts, including an Iran war, would be.

George H.W. Bush got the Japanese citizens to write a check for $13.5 billion to the U.S. to pay for the first Gulf War. He was perhaps the last fiscally responsible war-time U.S. President.

Wars cost lots and lots of money — and if a substantial chunk of the GOP crowd wants these wars and feels that it is in our national interest to have them, then by all means they should start lining up some of the wealthiest in the country who are helping to agitate for these conflicts to pay more in taxes for them.

The vast majority of the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were off-budget and were added to the national debt. And not only were they not paid for, the Bush tax cuts further destroyed our ability to pay for them. You simply cannot be in favor of more wars AND less revenue and claim to be in favor of fiscal responsibility. But these are not serious positions, they are just ways to pander to their political constituents.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    Uncle Glenny

    Not to mention oil prices and the effect on the economy.

    Which could also then effect the election.

  2. 2
    marcus

    “You simply cannot be in favor of more wars AND less revenue and claim to be in favor of fiscal responsibility.” Sure you can! The middle class pays for ‘em and the poor fights in ‘em. Especially if you define “fiscal responsibility” as “I got mine, now fuck off. Oh, and thanks for all the infrastructure.”

  3. 3
    matty1

    OT but I think it will interest you.

    The Daily Mail (aka The Paper Fascists Read) has an article on same sex marriage by the terminally ridiculous George Carey.

    The good news.

    1. The plan to introduce full marriage equality he criticizes is being supported by a Conservative Prime Minister.

    2. The top rated comments are either supportive of marriage equality and critical of Carey or not relevant to the issue (I see a call to lower the cost of divorce and someone asking why Rowan Williams hasn’t commented). Really when Daily Mail readers see no problem with ssm we can assume the fight is all but over.

  4. 4
    John Hinkle

    I think for republicans it’s not really a problem. Deficits are caused by tax-and-spend democrats, not by borrow-and-spend republicans. Did that make sense? If not, just say it out loud 20 or 30 times until it does.

  5. 5
    eric

    The vast majority of the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were off-budget and were added to the national debt.

    In some ways, I find that more reprehensible than actually prosecuting a war. It is one thing for a democratically elected leader to lead the country into war. But it is altogether another when that leader attempts to deceive the voters about the costs. Democracy is supposed to work via informed choice; no information (or wrong information) fundamentally undercuts the entire process. We cannoct properly elect (or re-elect) a candidate if that candidate hides the consequences of their actions from us.

  6. 6
    Brain Hertz

    1. The plan to introduce full marriage equality he criticizes is being supported by a Conservative Prime Minister.

    Good for him. He hasn’t actually done a whole lot right so far, but at least the Conservative party hasn’t had anything close to the same kind of culture warrior streak as their nominal US counterparts.

  7. 7
    Brain Hertz

    For clarity: by “he” I mean David Cameron.

  8. 8
    slc1

    Actually, a war against Iran needn’t be too costly, provided the SLC1 strategy is employed, namely a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs.

  9. 9
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    George H.W. Bush got the Japanese citizens to write a check for $13.5 billion to the U.S. to pay for the first Gulf War. He was perhaps the last fiscally responsible war-time U.S. President.

    Why does he ignore the German contributions? I couldn’t find exact figures, but it’s something between 7b and 16b (if it mattered I’d try to find the exact figure).

    In both countries, it was politically way more expedient to send money instead of soldiers. Because if your own soldiers are killed, you have the political outcry at home.

    Later though, this type of checkbook diplomacy was exceedingly denounced as “freeloading the security system” and both countries were forced to change their legal procedures to allow participation of their troops in certain multinational missions. In the case of Japan, which is constitutionally barred from having a military, this is more problematic than Germany, whose constitution merely prohibits it from participating in wars of invasion.

  10. 10
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    sorry make that “increasingly” instead of “exceedingly”

  11. 11
    Brain Hertz

    Actually, a war against Iran needn’t be too costly, provided the SLC1 strategy is employed, namely a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs.

    Yeah. That would work great. Apart from being the biggest act of mass murder in history.

  12. 12
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    slc1,

    of course, because the mass-murder of millions of people, also known as genocide, comes with no cost at all.

    OK, now I understand why KG calls you a genocidal fuckwit.

  13. 13
    dirigible

    Nuke Israel! Why? Because it’s the inexpensive dirigible plan!

  14. 14
    raven

    The 15 megaton bombs is a short term and short sided strategy.

    The rest of the world would protest a little but not much.

    They would all very quietly start developing nuclear weapons as a necessity for their own survival, or begging, borrowing or stealing them.

    Then one day, when we next rattle our nuclear sabers, BOOM. Washington DC and a few other American cities would blow up.

    Once you start launching nukes, the genie of perpetual nuclear warfare is out of the bottle.

  15. 15
    harold

    slc1

    Actually, a war against Iran needn’t be too costly, provided the SLC1 strategy is employed, namely a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs.

    Please accept my total contempt and scorn, you vicious, amoral genocide advocate.

  16. 16
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    raven,

    if the US murdered millions of people with nuclear bombs, I don’t think our current international system would continue to exist. Many European nations would be forced to renounce the United States, and possibly even cut their ties etc.

    I agree with the rest of your post though. Chinese generals have joked about nuking Los Angeles before, if the US actually did bomb Iran, it would no longer be a joke, but a credible scenario. The Chinese would put a lot more effort into developing their nuclear arsenal, and actively push to ostracise the US as a pariah state on the global stage. They only keep their arsenal so small at this point because no-one actually dares to use them.

  17. 17
    jesse

    Guys, SLC1 isn’t even here!

    That said. The Iranians actually have a heck of a case for developing nuclear weapon capability (something that even Israeli Intelligence, as reported in Ha’aretz, I think, is not likely near-term).

    1. The only nation crazy enough to use a nuke has been the US and they are threatening to bomb Iran, publicly
    2. Iran has invaded nobody
    3. Iraq invaded Iran in the 80s with US help
    4. US troops are on either side

    (While Iran has a sort-of-proxy in Hizbullah, Hizbullah has focused its attentions on Lebanon, and started as resistance to an invasion… by Israel. The invasion was ostensibly to stop the PLO at the time, and the 2006 invasion is a lot harder to justify).

    What sane leader would NOT develop a nuclear weapon under those conditions?

  18. 18
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    jesse,

    what do you mean, SLC1 isn’t even here?

    Well while the US has threatened to bomb Iran, it’s never threatened to nuke it. There is a big difference here.

  19. 19
    slc1

    Re Harold @ #15

    I consider Mr. Harold’s comment a badge of honor.

    Re Jesse @ #17

    Guys, SLC1 isn’t even here!

    ?

  20. 20
    Nick Gotts

    pelamun,
    Actually, I usually describe slc1 as a “genocidal maniac” but there really are no words adequate to describe such vileness. Since it is abundantly obvious that genocide such as he proposes would be radically destabilising, and cause a global wave of revulsion against whoever was responsible, I conclude that he simply gets his jollies from imagining the agony and death of millions of people.

  21. 21
    Taz

    The problem is that most conservatives have a 15 year old’s view of war: “One good punch and they’ll fold like a cheap tent.”

    It doesn’t work that way.

  22. 22
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    KG,

    “genocidal maniac” works for me as well.

    In certain cases, aerial bombardments have been successful (Iraq, Syria), but Iran has learnt from this and put all its facilities deep underground. Short of sending assassins after each and every nuclear physicist there (probably impossible to infiltrate said underground facilities where the key scientists probably now reside full time), only a full-scale invasion will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The US has no money and political will for doing that, as the support from the international community for this endeavour would be nil.

  23. 23
    harold

    The problem is that most conservatives have a 15 year old’s view of war: “One good punch and they’ll fold like a cheap tent.”

    It doesn’t work that way.

    It’s projection. That’s clearly true of the typical neocon chickenhawk, so they project it onto the rest of us.

  24. 24
    Nick Gotts

    pelamun,

    Actually I’m not convinced they will take that final step: I think they want the capability to build nukes, but to retain deniability – and if they actually built any, that would be very difficult to maintain. How confident can they be that they have no American or Israeli agents within their nuclear establishments? Moreover, if you build but don’t test, you can’t be sure your nukes will work – and it would be well-nigh impossible to test without being detected. However, to be clear, while their acquisition of nukes would certainly be a very dangerous development, a full-scale western invasion (which I agree is the only way this could be prevented if they do intend it), would be even worse.

  25. 25
    Modusoperandi

    My turn!

    slc1 “Actually, a war against Iran needn’t be too costly, provided the SLC1 strategy is employed, namely a half dozen well targeted 15 megaton bombs.”
    [says slc1, masturbating furiously]

  26. 26
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    KG,

    agree. They want to reach this point the NY Times article called “immunity zone” where they have the know-how and materials to build it whenever they want. Probably many other western nations, as well as Japan, also have this.

  27. 27
    marcus

    IANAFPE (I am not a foreign policy expert) but I do believe that the “immunity zone” bit worked well for North Korea when Baby Bush was doing his “Axis of Evil” bit and beyond. It seems logical to me that Iran might pursue a similar strategy.

  28. 28
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    marcus,

    that too, and also because China has a Monroe doctrine like stance regarding North Korea.

  29. 29
    slc1

    Re KG @ #20

    Yawn.

  30. 30
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    slc1,

    instead of yawning, why don’t you address the problems with your so-called doctrine? As long as you don’t do this, KG’s explanation for your motives of posting such nonsense is as good as any…

  31. 31
    Modusoperandi

    slc1 “Yawn.”
    [says slc1, masturbating furiously]

  32. 32
    slc1

    Re pelamun @ @30 & Modusoperandi @ #31

    Yawn^2

  33. 33
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    slc1,

    very convincing. So all right then, you’re a genocidal maniac.

  34. 34
    slc1

    Re pelamun @ #32

    If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggshells. I’m just willing to break those eggshells.

  35. 35
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Are you trying to trivialise the death of millions by comparing that to the “breaking of eggshells”.

    You really are a despicable excuse for a human being (but note that unlike Secretary Schultz, I still consider you a human being).

  36. 36
    Modusoperandi

    pelamun, to be fair, it sounded better in the original German.

  37. 37
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Modusoperandi,

    it’s true that Hermann Göring liked to say

    “Wo gehobelt wird, fallen Späne” (where wood is chipped, splinters must fall)

    Mostly regarding the fact that during the Nazi struggle for power, casualties had to be taken in stride. So I guess it fits the egg shell sentiment expressed by slc1.

    But don’t associate this type of thinking with contemporary Germany. Then chancellor Schröder refused to participate in the Iraq war because of the anti-war sentiment in the German population. There is no way a German government nowadays would even be able to contemplate sending troops to Iran.

  38. 38
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    “where wood is chopped”

  39. 39
    jesse

    sorry, i misread slc1′s comment above — i didn’t realize it was him.

    BTW dropping any nukes on Iran would result in a lot of fallout, and last I checked Israelis breathe the same air.

  40. 40
    Area Man

    “You simply cannot be in favor of more wars AND less revenue and claim to be in favor of fiscal responsibility.”

    You’d be surprised at how the simple dictum, “things cost money”, is totally lost on the Republicans. In their view, the government can be run for free, taxes serve no purpose at all other than to hurt the economy, and any deficits are caused by “waste, fraud, and abuse”, which can be dealt with without sacrifice.

    For the intellectual leaders of the right, like Grover Norquist, this is all calculated bullshit to deliberately ruin the country’s finances as part of their long-term goal of destroying the welfare state. If you can’t do it democratically, do it through subversion. For the rank and file GOP however, they really are stupid enough to believe it.

  41. 41
    jesse

    @Area Man — not just the welfare state. One of the great things about a lack of government of any kind is that you get strongman rule, which is fundamentally what the GOP believes in.

    I mean really. They have made it clear, they really don’t believe that anyone who can’t shoot anyone else has any rights at all. The ability to impose one’s will is the measure of your worth as a person.

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