A Billion Here, A Billion There …

BARACK OBAMA TAKES THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD ANOTHER COLD WAR … U.S. President Barack Obama wants to create a new $1 billion fund to strengthen European security in the face of “Russian aggression.” Wait … “Russian aggression?” Surely he’s not referring to Russia’s completely justifiable assertion of territorial influence following…


U.S. President Barack Obama wants to create a new $1 billion fund to strengthen European security in the face of “Russian aggression.”

Wait … “Russian aggression?” Surely he’s not referring to Russia’s completely justifiable assertion of territorial influence following a U.S.-supported coup in neighboring Ukraine, is he?

Apparently so …

“It is a commitment that is particularly important at this point in time,” Obama said during a visit to Poland, one of many European countries that has relied on U.S. taxpayers to subsidize its national defense for decades.

Poland is planning a modest increase in military spending in the coming year but the country still spends less than 2 percent of its total budget on defense – secure in the knowledge U.S. troops will always be available for that purpose.

America’s military footprint in Europe – which Obama is hoping to expand – is staunchly supported by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose fear-mongering on “global security” matters is legendary.

Thomas Ravenel – a former statewide official who has said he will run against Graham in the event the Senator claims the GOP nomination next week – takes a much more realistic view.

His argument? That politicians like Obama and Graham are bankrupting American taxpayers to protect wealthy European countries that refuse to take care of themselves.

“We cannot criticize these countries for accepting free security any more than we can begrudge private companies for accepting huge defense contracts,” Ravenel wrote earlier this year. “They are simply taking what’s being given to them. Our beef must be with the American politicians cutting the deals — and cutting the checks.”

Ravenel’s piece noted the presence of 70,000 U.S. troops in Europe at a time when European armies reduced their ranks by more than 160,000.

“Why are they there?” Ravenel asked.

Good question …

There is no “Russian aggression” in Europe. Russia is merely responding to America’s taxpayer-subsidized participation in the unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine. And even if there were “Russian aggression,” that should be Europe’s problem – not America’s.

Especially seeing as our government is already in a $17.6 trillion hole …

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Irony June 3, 2014 at 9:47 am

So the Socialist dictator here is worried about the Socialist dictator abroad and needs more confiscated & printed up funds to mitigate the threat?

Smirks June 3, 2014 at 10:23 am

Wealthy European nations, like Poland. Hmm…

Not sure I agree with spending a billion over this stuff, though.

Jackie Chiles June 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

To be fair, he was probably talking about how the U.S. military is the de facto military for Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the UK. All of which were able to cut military spending to build nice social welfare states because good ole USA will bear the burden for defending Europe from those darn russians.

Smirks June 3, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I do agree there. Japan is another country I think we should let defend themselves. Problem is, they are limited to defense only. We really should let them out of that.
There’s nothing wrong with being allies, I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with coming to their defense if they are wrongly attacked per se, but just to lend a hand, not provide most of their defense.

Mike at the Beach June 3, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Japan is actually edging out toward offensive capability these days. China makes them muy nervioso.

CNSYD June 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

Putin is merely trying to protect the Rhineland and the Sudetenland. It is just lebensraum. Oh wait! Wrong war. This time it is the protection of Russians and their living space.

Rocky Charletson June 3, 2014 at 11:26 am

I back Lindsey in everything – because he’s a true American. So let’s crank up the spending and sell some Boeings to Ukraine.

Chucktown Connection June 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Sorry Rocky, but I am backing TR – because he is a true Charleston dickhead. So lets crank up the coke pipeline Tommy and keep your creepy co-stars happy.

Abe June 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Lavish and unnecessary military spending in peacetime and wartime is the mantra of the Republican Party. I’m surprised any commentator at this conservative website has problems with it.

Bible Thumper June 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm

NATO is the most successful alliance in the history of the world. No NATO power has ever been attacked by a foreign power except Great Britain in the Falklands. There have been no wars in Europe except Yugoslavia. The most peaceful period in European history. In the last 65 years the US has only been involved in 3 weeks of missile and aerial bombing of Yugoslavia in all of Europe. In the 50 years prior, the US was involved in three wars in Europe or involving European powers.

Mike at the Beach June 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Don’t go spouting historical facts on this website, bub. You’ll be vilified and ridiculed; possibly even called a name or three. Here of late, ol’ Will has been trafficking in hyperbole and nitwittery…get with the program!

Bible Thumper June 3, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Sorry. Didn’t mean to confuse anyone with the facts.

Uh huh June 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

Interestingly, his argument doesn’t touch on the economics, which was the gist of the article. So why would anyone respond or even ridicule or vilify him?

Even if you think the alliances keep peace, can the nation afford to do it long term? At what point does the deficit become a national defense issue?

Mike at the Beach June 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

True enough- BT didn’t specifically talk numbers, but the necessity (or at least efficacy) of the expense of our overseas presence speaks to the economic piece as well. This presence is less “defending other countries” than it is maintaining a forward-deployed capability for our own purposes. I can’t convince my isolationist friends (especially those who’ve never participated in the goat-rope that a major military deployment/invasion/operation represents) of this, but it’s the reality on the ground.

“Bringing home” the 70,000 troops we keep forward deployed (which is only around 5% of our active duty military force, by the way) would not dramatically cut our defense budget. That budget can certainly be cut, but it would be much more effective to do so selectively by reducing waste, corruption in acquisition, etc. We spend just over 4% of our GDP on defense; Russia spends 4.5%. Many of the other major players spend around half of that (UK- 2.4%, China- 2%). getting the US down to 2% is neither necessary nor well-advised. We (and the rest of the world) get a lot of bang-for-the-buck (pun intended) from our 4.2%, and shaving that down even by a full half would not dramatically alter the US budget. Fighting some of the major conflicts that would erupt when we pull back would be much more expensive (e.g., the Iraq silliness).

As for my vilification and name-calling admonition, if you don’t think the wackos from both ends (here, like everywhere else in politics) will beat you down for stepping beyond their orthodoxy, you must not post here much! ;-)


Uh huh June 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thing is, you are referencing % of GDP. Setting aside for a moment what Russia & China are spending in the same fashion(which I know most don’t want to do), isn’t the relevant figure really what we spend for defense as a percentage of DC’s budget?

Granted, SS/Medicare/Medicaid is a huge number as well, but should it all be looked it if the fiscal goal is to stop piling on debt, slow down inflationary monetary policy, etc. in the name of fiscal solvency?

Have you ever considered the possibility that fiscal policy is as important as foreign/military policy in terms of having a stable governing system?

Mike at the Beach June 4, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Of course I’m referencing percentage of GDP; that’s the international standard for such comparisons across every field- social science, economics, finance, etc. (my numbers were from the World Bank). It’s the only way to address the apples/oranges thing. As for setting aside what Russia and China spend? Really?! They are the two most formidable opponents we may ever face in a conventional sense (especially in regional conflicts). Discounting their importance is beyond ill-advised; it could be suicidal. That’s why Will’s bizarre characterization of Putin’s move into Crimea is just, well, bizarre. Luckily the entire rest of the world disagrees, with the exception of the moral and intellectual giants in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Fiscal policy is important, naturally, but our military spending is absolutely no threat to our fiscal well being. We could hang around 4% GDP essentially forever if we had to. Even using your absolute dollars model makes the case- let’s say we cut our forward deployed troops out of the defense budget in toto, then cut the same 5% in absolute dollars from the “entitlements” that account for roughly HALF of the US budget. The Pentagon sheds a little over $31 billion; Medicare/Medicaid/SS shed $83 billion out a $3.5ish trillion pie.

My point is simple- there’s a financial angle to this debate, but it a red herring for most of the isolationists. The numbers simply don’t hold up. You and I just appear to disagree on policy, which is okie dokie.

Uh huh June 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm

If you think as an interventionist that the current debt load/deficit isn’t a problem, I suppose I can understand why your viewpoint remains static.

Oh well, I guess time will tell.

Mike at the Beach June 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I’m no interventionist, I’m a realist. Not many “interventionists” with whom I speak would ever refer to the Iraq War as “silliness” as I did during this conversation. I am a realist, and I understand economics. You can claim that the military is to blame for our debt load all you like, but that simply doesn’t make it true. You call my viewpoint “static.” I call it reality. As I said, we simply differ (but the financials are on my side). I think we’ve now officially arrived at the old “agree to disagree and move on” mark…

Uh huh June 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm

“You can claim that the military is to blame for our debt load all you like,”

Have I claimed that? No.

It is one component of many. I’m simply arguing that there should be an across the board scale back of spending until we are no longer accruing debt at minimum, ideally, start actually working it down IMO.

How the “financials” are on your side, I have no idea. You obviously are not concerned about the debt and ongoing deficit. I am. I agree that we disagree.

I don’t understand why what we spend to our GDP matters in the face of this ongoing fiscal issue. My point is that we should look at the budget based on what DC has to spend and go from there, you feel otherwise.

Really, you’ve made zero points.

Mike at the Beach June 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Holy shit, dude. At this point we’re only talking to ourselves. You clearly (and magically) transmuted my lack of hyperbolic concern over military spending into a lack of concern about our financial situation. You even somehow inferred that I was an interventionist, which is alittle bizarre because that’s not even what we were discussing (nor is it at all true), but I digress.

The reason that spending is compared (and discussed) in terms of GDP is because A) That’s how grownups who graduated college and took a few econ courses do it, B) That’s how the int’l community compares all governmental spending, and C) It works because in the vast majority of instances as GDP rises, so rises a nation’s revenue via taxation, fees, etc. To only examine absolute dollars lacks context.

Who doesn’t think we need to cut the US budget??? Jesus, man, you won’t get much argument there. This conversation was simply about military spending AS IT RELATES TO FORWARD DEPLOYED US MILITARY ASSETS, which is what FITS was whining about today. All the turns to side roads were by your hand. Our forward deployed military expenses (viewed as absolute dollars OR in the fuller context of percent-of-GDP) don’t amount to a hill of beans vis-à-vis our overall debt problem, which is driven by a combination of revenue issues and (for the most part) Medicare/Medicaid/SS entitlement spending. You can now the ACA to that pile. If I haven’t made my point to you by now, it won’t happen. You’re obviously a last-word kinda guy, so you can have it. I’m out…

Uh huh June 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

” C) It works because in the vast majority of instances as GDP rises, so rises a nation’s revenue via taxation, fees, etc. To only examine absolute dollars lacks context.”

Yea, so let’s examine that “vast majority of instances” thing. How have we accrued the debt if your statement holds true?(and continue to accrue)

They print up the deficit. Not only that, when they do it, it INCREASES the GDP.

Maybe you need an Econ 101 class? Or you can just continue to take everyone’s word for it I suppose, the “grownups who graduated college and took a few econ courses”.

Yeah man, I’m glad to have the last word, because it’s needed to refute your BS.

Lastly, to speak directly to your focus on “forward deployed” argument as being inconsequential in terms of the overall numbers:

Let us remember that even if the actual footprint is only 5% of the active military, the costs of supporting them overseas(versus here) aren’t even close. Foreign bases and their associated costs are hugely expensive. I’ll grant that $1 billion is a drop in the proverbial bucket, but the issue surrounding the cost of American intervention is much, much larger than that, not withstanding whatever money gets poured into directly funding our allies military, which is touched on in this write up.

Bible Thumper June 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

Forward deployments reduce the likelihood of a much more costly intervention.(lives and expense)
Two wars in particular might have been prevented had the US had bases and alliances. The first Gulf War and the Korean War may have been prevented if our intentions had been clearly understood by out adversaries.

Uh huh June 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

“Forward deployments reduce the likelihood of a much more costly intervention.(lives and expense)”

Yeah, I understand your argument, but there’s no cost/benefit analysis available to either of us that is going to prove it or not. We have to discuss it axiomatically.

Overseas commitments in the way of troops, bases, and funding/propping up governments friendly to us is hugely expensive.

The kernel of truth Mike exhibited in his declaration on the folly of Iraq can be easily said for Vietnam, the ‘other’ Iraq and host of other police actions that the US has engaged in that aren’t widely reported on on top of the continual overseas expenditures mentioned above.

It speaks directly against your contention that our costly overseas expenditures save us the cost of war.

RogueElephant June 5, 2014 at 7:38 am

Those silly facts seem to get in the way of a good pile of BS every time.

Dr. Doom June 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I wonder if Will can see Russia from his house. This post is about the same caliber of intellect of the former governor of Alaska.

Big Fan June 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

And if a coke addled manboy in a pink shirt and tight girly pants says its so then by God I believe it.

Obama and Graham Suck June 3, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Lobbyist for the manufacturing of military equipment. That is really what is behind it all. Why should WE pay for special interest. I refuse this pork. And I dis-own Lindsey “Fucktard” Grahamnesty.

Fuck You and your supporters, freaky sex pervert Grahamnesty.

……….(‘(….´…´… ¯~/’..’)

euwe max June 5, 2014 at 6:09 pm


Thomas June 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

To Thomas Ravenel…I will sell you my Disqus “Thomas” account for 50k (50,000.00) You can reach me here at Fits.

Italian Wine Con. June 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Would you take powder over cash?

Thomas June 3, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Is this something Zbigniew advocates? Did he come out with a new book? Zbigniew’s books has shaped US Foreign Policy for decades. So let it be written, so let it be done.

euwe max June 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I’d like to give the Joint Chiefs of Staff LSD without their knowledge and tape the resulting bull session.

euwe max June 3, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Especially seeing as our government is already in a $17.6 trillion hole …

Money is an idea. It’s affected by opinion and collective “reality.” Since no one really knows how the economy works, we are afloat in an uncharted sea – watching for indicators… like insurance companies who don’t have the equity to back their securities…. and libertarians who are “shocked” at the failure of the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders equity.

Money June 4, 2014 at 9:37 am

“By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become “profiteers,” who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat…”

-JM Keynes

euwe max June 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

another good argument for a graduated income tax, and a hefty capital gains tax.

Money June 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

More strategery(in Bush speak) to fix the faulty strategery?

How about the option where everyone has to live within their means?


euwe max June 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm

How about one dollar, one vote? Or pigs in control of the commons?

Money June 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

What does any of that have to do with living within your means?

euwe max June 5, 2014 at 12:07 am

if you have a cow and a bull, and you pay 25% of them to the state – you can no longer make more cows, so the next year, you pay 25%, you can no longer make milk.

If you have a million cows, and you pay 25%, you still have hundreds of thousands of cows, and so those who had two, must come to you to buy milk.

People who think this is equitable, are mentally ill.

Money June 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

You won’t get any disagreement with me on that…but I still don’t see how that is relevant with living within your means.

euwe max June 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

living within your means.

oh… why didn’t you say so? You’re all over the map, there… ;)

It’s a property of life to use energy today that will have to be replaced tomorrow in order to live another day. If you can’t repay it, you die.

For instance, Republicans call pollution an “investment.”

Money June 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I still don’t understand…oh well, I tried.

I was just pointing out that there’s inherent immorality in the case of government printing money(stealing); that was recognized by the main architect of said policy(Keynes) and he seemed to even understand that it helps to enrich plutocrats/oligarchs(including those in high level government positions) and is done under the guise of having “flexible” government finance options and/or the ability to borrow(or in other words, “LIVING BEYOND YOUR MEANS”-‘your’ being gov’t in this example) without the explicit approval of voters.

I’m fascinated by how many prominent economists promote Keynes ideologies with this notion it is what’s best for society, when the Keynes himself seemed to understand that it crushed the middle class/poor and created a plutocracy.

euwe max June 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

let me consider absurdity for a minute

Which is more absurd… wolves eating all the deer in the forest and then dying of starvation… alcoholics spending their grocery money on alcohol… gamblers… capitalists destroying their capital blinded by greed, or objectivists explaining economics in terms of “morality”….

…or better yet, me giving a dissertation on the relevance of Keynes and Hayek to modern economics from the perspective of the Tea Party..

Money June 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm

So you’re saying that everyone is crazy, so fuck it?

euwe max June 6, 2014 at 1:12 am

everyone is crazy

The very definition of clinical paranoia. If this ever becomes the case, the recommendation of medical professionals everywhere is to commit yourself for treatment. (are you listening, DT?)

…but, setting reality aside for a minute (I’ve been wanting to do that for the longest time!), and supposing that everyone *is* crazy… then, of course, I’d have no alternative but to join the libertarian party, endorse Lee Bright for Senate, and later – of the United States.

of course everyone isn’t crazy!

There’s still a chance that the Koch brothers will find us enough of an irritation to pay us off to shut up, or play along.

Money June 6, 2014 at 9:27 am

Yeah….you’re right. It all makes sense now.

euwe max June 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

… say you’re driving around smoking some *fucked up* weed, and you’re on speed, and some kind of pink capsule they said was psilocybin… and suddenly, you feel like stopping at a little restaurant and having a chat with your friends, who are also in the car, but are starting to lose color in their cheeks because of all the near misses and curb skids… you know, deep conversation without being drowned out by the BOOM BOOM BOOM from the two 10 inch speakers behind the rear seats, and the shaker welded to the frame… so you see a sign and a place.. oh, looks like a throwback to the 60’s… waitresses suffering from tertiary stages of alcoholism, wearing nursing shoes and white uniform.. beehive hair.. you know the kind of place I mean… troughs on the floor for gravy… crushed Marlboro Red Boxes in the parking lot, cigarette butts all over, those huge Schlitz bottles in the weeds against the building… anyway, it seems like such a *good* idea… you park, with one wheel over the concrete stop, and get out.. as you’re all ambling in, you look through the window at the patrons… and like a light turns on and everything goes slow motion… you see a bunch of rough looking truck driver types with tats, some young cowboys from Alabama with blue spiked hair and levi jackets, shiny metal tips on their boots.. and these little beady like, eyes stare back at you between the neon… and oh, man.. you *know* you don’t want to go in there… there’s a real bad feeling rising up from your chest, and it already feels like you’re being sized up for shower duty by most of cell block D.. a strange situation like that, and some guy comes out of the diner, kind of stumbling, and coughing up blood, lighting up a cigarette… and looks your way… and gives you that four-toothed smile he’s honed from decades of deals gone bad… you know… like he knows you or something…

Bible Thumper June 5, 2014 at 10:26 am

Even worse. People go to the government to get there milk and meat that the government took. Then no one wants to produce meat ant milk if the government is going to take them.

euwe max June 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm

no one wants to produce meat and milk if the government is going to take them.

The rich have no incentive.

The Colonel June 4, 2014 at 7:44 am

Interesting photo, the obsolete Fort Monroe and an already nearing obsolescence Raptor. Treaties and agreements have kept the problems “over there”since, well, since almost the entirety of our existence.

CNSYD June 4, 2014 at 8:57 am

as well as forward deployment.

The Colonel June 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

Always nice to have a safe and secure intermediate staging base…

euwe max June 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Maybe Israel will let us move in with them…

“so I goes down to my good friend’s house, you know peoples? I ax him if he let me stay wid him a few days… he say “Let me go an ax my wife” .. I could tell right away the answer was no.. he come back to the door, talkin’ about “I don’t know, man.. she kinda funny…” … I says “I know… evabody funny.. now you funny too!”

The Colonel June 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I’m not sure if I should say that this is “spot on” or a “non-sequitur”?!? Either way, +3!

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