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October 29, 2008

New Tomdispatch


The Trillion Dollar Tag Sale
How the Pentagon Could Help Bail Out America

By Nick Turse

Wars, bases, and money. The three are inextricably tied together.

In the 1980s, for example, American support for jihadis like Osama bin Laden waging war on (Soviet) infidels who invaded and constructed bases in Afghanistan, a Muslim land, led to rage by many of the same jihadis at the bases (U.S.) infidels built in the Muslim holy land of Saudi Arabia in the 1990s. That, in turn, led to jihadis like bin Laden declaring war on those infidels, which, after September 11, 2001, led the Bush administration to launch, and then prosecute, a Global War on Terror, often from newly built bases in Muslim lands. Over the last seven years, the results of that war have been particularly disastrous for Iraqis and Afghans. Sizable numbers of Americans, however, are now beginning to suffer as well. After all, their hard-earned taxpayer dollars have been poured into wars without end, leaving the country deeply in debt and in a state of economic turmoil.

In his 1988 State of the Union message, President Ronald Reagan called the jihadis in Afghanistan "freedom fighters." They were, of course, fighting the Soviet Union then. He, too, pledged eternal enmity against the Soviet Union, which he termed an "evil empire." For years, conservatives have claimed that Reagan not only won his Afghan War, but by launching an all-out arms race, which the economically weaker Soviet Union couldn't match, bankrupted the Soviets and so brought their empire down.

While that version of history may be disputed, today, it is entirely possible that one of Reagan's freedom fighters, Osama bin Laden, actually returned the favor by perfecting the art of financially felling a superpower. While Reagan ran up a superpower-sized tab to outspend the Soviets, bin Laden has done it on the cheap. Essentially for the cost of box cutters and flight training, he got the Bush administration to spend itself into penury, without a superpower in sight.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 29, 2008 10:46 AM

ARE WE talking actual cuts or just cuts in rate of growth?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 29, 2008 03:46 PM

Nowhere in the piece he explains who (apart from the military contractors) benefits from garrisoning the world. Access to natural resources, cheap labor, commodities markets.

For the average American, is it all a complete waste? I doubt it. And if it isn't, what's the bottom line?

Posted by: abb1 at October 29, 2008 04:55 PM

What has "bin Laden" gained? Homeless Americans, is that his goal? The military bases aren't going to shut down, McObomba will build more and more, and bomb more and more. The benefactors of 911 are the people who get those trillions of dollars in war spending.

Posted by: Marcus at October 29, 2008 04:55 PM