New York Times columnist Paul Krugman provided the best summary as to why America easily crushed Iraq when he wrote: "I am not a military expert, but I can do the numbers: the most recent US military budget was $400 billion, while Iraq spent only $1.4 billion." Actually, the USA spends almost $500 billion a year when you count spending kept off the Defense Department books, like the Veterans Department, the Department of Energy (whose main task is to build nuclear weapons), the secret "Black Budget", and the now annual "Supplemental" spending. Experts have already begun writing about "lessons learned" and concluded that everything worked great. This is like the Oakland Raiders defeating a junior college football team (whose coaching staff left at half time) and then gloating about their brilliant game plan.
It is obvious that Iraqi leaders decided not to make a last stand in Baghdad. They were not religious nor nationalist fanatics, so they just fled with their loot. They saw no value in destroying oil wells, dams, bridges, and Baghdad in futile attempt to win. We may never know if this happened because Saddam Hussein was killed, Iraqi leaders defected, or Iraqi units were tricked with false messages. We do know the Iraqis can fight, as evidenced by the bloody battles at the city of An Nasiriyah, which stopped US Marines for two weeks. News about what happened there is minimal, except that over a hundred Marines were killed or wounded, several went missing, and the commander of the 1st Marine regiment was relieved.
Nevertheless, moving an army to the other side of the world and invading a sizable country was a major challenge which the US military met. The invasion was no brilliant maneuver, just an obvious attack straight from Kuwait to Baghdad. Since a car can drive that route in less than a day, arriving in Baghdad after three weeks was not a lighting strike. The American corporate press censored negative reports and bloody images of the war, and stories about problems are rare. The US Army's 3rd Mechanized Division and the 1st Marine Division were hampered by dust storms, gas guzzling M1 tanks, and a lack of armored resupply vehicles. Light infantry from the 101st and 82nd Divisions proved too light to fight, and were assigned security roles with tanks attached.
The big disaster was the destruction of the Iraqi Army. Everyone assumed they would surrender en mass, and then could be employed to keep order around the country. However, they died or were scattered, and it will take a long time to rebuild and equip a new Iraqi army. So who will run Iraq for a year or so, 100,000 GIs? Don't expect the UN or Arab world to lift a finger, and it will be interesting which nations recognize the American appointed puppet regime in Baghdad. The USA has already chosen four sites as permanent military bases in Iraq, and announced that Iraqi oil operations will become free enterprise (e.g. turned over to Western oil corporations) which already earned billions of dollars in profits as prices surged during the conflict. The international bankers have also surfaced to demand that Iraqi oil be used to repay billions of dollars they loaned to Saddam Hussein.
While the war angered the Arab world, it has been a great success for the Bush Administration and major international corporations. A year ago, Americans were asking why Enron mobster Kenneth Lay was not in prison, why their health care system was collapsing, why millions of illegal aliens continue to flow across the borders, and why no one in Washington DC cares about education. George Bush campaigned on the promise of jobs, health care reform, and better education, as did Bill Clinton and Daddy Bush. However, all three succumbed to the pressure from big business to secure profits and distract the American public by starting a war.
During these years, "conservatives" disappeared from the American political scene, replaced by big government imperialists, who are often called neo-conservatives, although neo-cons is more accurate since they are really con men posing as conservatives. They are easy to spot since most wear nazi-style flag pins. According to the CATO Institute, federal government spending increased 0.9% annually after inflation during the eight years of the Clinton administration. Since "conservative" Republicans took over the Senate and White House two years ago, federal spending has shot up 4.3% annually after inflation, all funded by borrowing money and looting the Social Security "trust" fund.
Corporate America keeps such facts off their television news. Instead, they hire neo-con men like Larry Kudlow of CNBC to shout about the need for a big tax cut in one sentence and another huge increase in military spending the next. Kudlow should have been fired last year when it was revealed that he was frequently paid thousands of dollars by Enron for "speaking fees" while touting the value of Enron stock on his "news" show. Some neo-cons claim that budget deficits don't matter, or they are good for America. If that's the case, why not just eliminate all income taxes? And if trade deficits don't matter, the US Government should buy every American a foreign car.
Few Americans realize neo-cons have increased the size of the federal government faster in two years than during the eight years of the "liberal" Clinton administration. Military spending is now higher than Cold War levels, even after adjusting for inflation, and will continue to grow rapidly. Millions of Americans accept the neo-con ploy that it requires more money to defend against a few hundred Arab fugitives than the entire Soviet Union during the 1980s, and that another terror attack is far more threatening than total nuclear war was with the Soviets. This neo-con strategy is based on H. L. Mencken's revelation many years ago when he wrote: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Meanwhile, the nation continues its worst economic decline since the Great Depression. Government workers and military personnel haven't noticed this impact as they continue to receive pay raises ahead of inflation, thanks to big spending neo-cons. However, since they depend on the soundness of the US government for their pensions, they should take an interest in the looming bankruptcy of the USA. This may seem unthinkable, but not to the millions of Russian veterans whose pensions disappeared when the Soviet Union went bankrupt. At the minimum, inflation will soar due to rampant spending, then Congress will take action by limiting cost of living increases for military personnel and retirees below the rate of inflation, which is what happened in the 1970s. Nothing is "guaranteed by law", because Congress changes laws every week.
Most Americans are confused about what's happening because they are told America's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to rise. They are unaware that GDP is just a measurement of economic activity, not prosperity or advancement. The World Trade Center attacks were great for GDP since they caused billions of dollars in insurance and rescue "activity". Hurricanes, plagues, and smoking are great for GDP, as well as lawsuits, automobile accidents, and arson. However, we are told there is no recession, and certainly no economic depression, since GDP still grows slightly each quarter. Yet GDP has been buoyed by population growth and such things like airport security spending and rising credit card debt. A better measurement of American prosperity are tax revenues, which have fallen sharply as Americans become poorer. Last week, the US Labor Department announced that the median inflation-adjusted weekly pay for the average worker declined 1.5% this past year, but that didn't make news. The US dollar has lost 20% of its exchange value this past year, yet that's not newsworthy either.
It may seem odd for this magazine to address economics, but the reality is that the biggest threat to the national security of the United States is hyperinflation and eventual bankruptcy. The Ross Perot movement which deterred massive government growth has faded, and the increasing corrupt US Congress is looting the nation. This year, the nation will borrow the same amount of money as it spends on the entire Department of Defense. We will also export enough dollars through trade deficits to fund the entire Department of Defense. In short, the current dying economy is already propped up by massive borrowing of nearly one trillion dollars a year, through treasury bonds and IOUs in the form of unspent dollar credits. America's leading export has become dollars, and we are lucky the computer age allows us to export computer bytes because printing and shipping tons of hundred dollars bills overseas would be a major burden. The USA is benefiting from a massive game where we export dollars and then borrow them from foreigners. The question is how long those foreign suckers will continue accept dollars?
This is why the neo-con hobby of insulting America's creditors is dangerous. Foreigners have worried about the creditworthiness of the USA for years, and the arrogant attitude of the Bush administration has made matters worse. The USA has always been considered a safe haven for foreign investors, until the Bush administration suspended the US Constitution and began seizing bank accounts of anyone "suspected" of helping terrorists. This involves no judicial process, money is just taken for use by the Justice Department. As a result, foreigners learned that property rights in the USA are no better than in other dictatorships, so hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign capital in US banks and stock brokerages has fled to Europe. In addition, America's tourism and airline industry is near collapse as insulted foreigners no longer spend their dollars in the USA, while US business suffers from boycotts overseas.
Rather than addressing serious economic problems and cutting spending, the neo-cons are pushing for tax cuts while finding new enemies to justify another expensive foreign expedition. The US government cannot afford an empire; it cannot even afford to run this nation of 50 states. Flooding the world with dollars is forcing other nations to evaluate the real value of dollars, and US treasury bonds. After the Soviet Union was destroyed by bankruptcy, the last premier of that other superpower, Michael Gorbachev, frequently said that an overemphasis on military power ultimately undermined other components of national security. The USA is now on the path to bankruptcy, led by the neo-cons and cheered by most Democrats as they scheme to introduce the next hobgoblin to appear on corporate television to distract the American public.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
G2mil editorials may be freely distributed without permission
May 2003 Articles
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
have been returned to the Members Library
Cut Surplus Army Units - cut the fat to fill manpower shortages
Meteor bombs - the ultimate bunker buster
Shoot and Duck - towed artillery hasn't the time to "shoot and scoot"
Tenure Flag Officers - allow them full careers to age 62
Osprey Fails Key Tests of Performance - the V-22 scandal continues
Status of the F/A-22 Program (pdf) - April 2, 2003 GAO report
War and the Economy - we may see a second Great Depression
The End of Empire - a bankrupt USA
War Prosperity - the fallacy that won't die
The Fruit of Victory: A Lingering Anxiety - endless wars drain America's power
Dominant Logistics - the future of deployment and sustainment
Protection Against Shaped Charge Warheads - like RPGs
Previous G2mil - April 2003 issue
Past Editorials - by Carlton Meyer
Library Tour - visit G2mil's library
Library Entrance - members only
All material in G2mil Copyright 2003 G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to www.G2mil.com are encouraged.