Monday, November 23, 2009

Money, money, money, money......mon-ey

Today the LA Times decided to move beyond the mere "will they or won't they" Ross and Rachel aspect of the decision to escalate in Afghanistan to the tune of 40k soldiers (hint: they will) and get down to the nitty gritty of how much it will cost. Because the LAT is apparently under the assumption that war isn't free and military spending doesn't count as spending. Rookies.

But the great thing about American politics and war is the fact that there are passionate debates about these issues by or elected betters. Like the debate between those who think endless war is free and those who only think it's mostly free, but could be persuaded if someone would start building Humvees in their district. Or the debate that's going on between the White House and Pentagon now: not over whether to escalate, no...God no, I meant over the various ways to bullshit Americans and not get them so mad when you up the ante in Afghanistan.
The calculations so far have produced a sweeping range. The Pentagon publicly estimates it will cost $500,000 a year for every additional service member sent to the war zone. Obama's budget experts size it up at twice that much.

In coming up with such numbers, the White House and the military have different priorities as well as different methods.

The president's advisors don't want to underestimate the cost and then lose the public's faith. The Pentagon worries about sticker shock as commanders push for an increase of as many as 40,000 troops.
Hey, "president's advisors"? Public's faith: lost. So, giving us an accurate tab up front isn't the courtesy you think it is, especially when we wouldn't be able to say "no" if we thought it was too high. But it is glad to know that our military betters feel that the public needs to be lied to in order to get them to support this escalation. They're right, of course, but I think going so far as to estimate the cost of new weapons, bases, and support equipment for these new soldiers as costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $0 was a nice touch.

So get ready, war escalation is a comin'. I'm just happy to know we didn't learn anything over the past decade about pesky little things like "whether the mission is worth it" or "is this a good idea". Thankfully we learned that the important debate is over the marketing and salesmanship of the war. It's just a shame bullshit like this doesn't have to through Senate subcommittees and pass a 60 vote filibuster threshold. Then it could be stop....ah, who the hell am I kidding, it would pass rather easily.

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