A War is a War is a War and It Ain’t Gonna Be Cheap

“War is the trade of kings.”–John Dryden

“History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”–Ronald Reagan

You have to love Jon Stewart’s take on U.S. military intervention in Libya as “America at Not-War.” The administration’s  insistence that our involvement is not war but intervention harks back to the days of LBJ. And the rationale is just another version of the same cynical sham repeated by every U.S. president since Harry Truman.

The second segment of Jon Stewart’s video pokes fun at President Obama’s rather clumsy justification for humanitarian intervention: “All Obama has done is laid bare the shining spread sheet on the Hill that has always been the real force behind presidents’ foreign policy decisions despite all our soaring freedom rhetoric…Obama just gave us a little less poetry and a little more long division.” Stewart also points out the hypocritical nature of U. S. intervention, something that anyone who has any memory or experience with war in Vietnam should know inside and out.

Tarak Barkawi in his essay for Al Jazeera entitled, “No-fly zone: Clouding words of war” states: “Few critics have even bothered to point out the obvious selectivity. Obama meant no idling before this particular tyrant, while the UN Security Council offered the beatific state of protected innocence to some Libyans only, not to Syrians, Yemenis, Palestinians or Bahrainis, much less those suffering in the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe or elsewhere.”

If you ask liberal talking heads like Ed Schultz and other Nattering Nabobs of Progressivism, who would support Dick Cheney if he was a Democrat, they’ll tell you, “Well, this is a cheaper war, a Democrat war and besides, it’s not a war.” Cheap?!

We can debate about the wisdom of current U.S. military engagement in Libya forever. The debate about the righteousness of any war–the spin, the sleazy sales job–always obfuscates any real discussion of the cost of war. It’s not cheap. Just check the Cost of War Clock for Iraq and Afghanistan on the lower left corner of this site. There went your kid’s education. There went your healthcare. Now there’s is a third shooting war in Libya to add to the running total.

The  National Journal reported that the cost of the war reached well over $100 million on the first day. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, told the House Armed Services Committee that the conflict had cost $550 million as of Monday, March 28 and that the U.S. commitment is winding down as NATO takes over. He said he expects the cost going forward to be about $40 million a month. Right, does that include our overall NATO funding? CIA with a classified budget?

What would you do with $40 million a month? Or how could $400.00 a month benefit 100,000 families?

Not to go all California on you Mr. President, but I feel like you’re not listening to me. I feel like you’re not treating me with  the respect I deserve when you spend my money without fully consulting me, especially at a time when my money could be saved for better purposes like when I have to start paying my health insurance premiums that you didn’t bother to cap when you required me to buy it. I want you to get that I’m feeling a bit insecure right now. I feel like my security is threatened rather than strengthened when you spend my money on another war.

Then there’s the endgame, the outcome that nobody bothers to talk about. What if the Libyan rebels succeed? What will their freedom look like? Do we honestly think that a desert paradise will emerge and we will be routinely treated with, la, la, la, la, la, images of cherubic, happy and free Libyan children skipping merrily through the sand?

Are we going to get our money back? You bet can bet your ass we are. Except that “we” isn’t “you and me” any more. The profits will be collected by private corporations endowed with public subsidies (more of our money) to “rebuild the nation.” Like disaster capitalist version of Iraq as described in The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein: with “a public sector reduced to a minimal number of employees, mostly contract workers, living in a Halliburton city state, tasked with signing corporate friendly laws drafted by KPMG and handling duffle bags of cash to Western contractors protected by mercenary soldiers, themselves shielded by legal immunity.”

Wait a minute, we didn’t have to invade Libya. They asked for our help. We won’t need to be protected by mercenaries, right? Look at it this way, when the U.S. and its allies insist upon installing some exiled Libyan oil executive like Hamid Karzai as a transitional president, the rebels may regret asking for our assistance. Will they simply lay down their arms?

At the very least the State Department’s Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization, where “[c]orporations and consultants are lined up on ‘pre-signed contracts’ so that they are ready to leap into action as soon as disaster strikes” will deploy their “reserve corps of contracting personnel who are trained to execute rapid relief and reconstruction contracting during contingency actions.” (Shock Doctrine, page 483)  Or as Ms. Klein might put it, the U.S. model for privatized war and reconstruction is export-ready-to-roll in Libya.

Get ready to open your wallet again.

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