Early this year the Bush administration is to ask Congress to approve an additional $100bn for the onerous task of making life intolerable for the Iraqis. This will bring the total spent on the White House's current obsession with war to almost $500bn - enough to have given every US citizen $1,600 each. I wonder which the voters would have gone for if given the choice: shall we (a) give every American $1,600 or (b) spend the money on bombing a country in the Middle East that doesn't use lavatory paper?I'm reminded of all the good my further-left friends dreamed of doing with the massive post-Cold War "peace dividend." Of course the peace dividend never existed. Our Cold War military was purchased largely with deficit dollars.
Of course, there's another thing that George Bush could have done with the money: he could have given every Iraqi $18,700. I imagine that would have reduced the threat of international terrorism somewhat. Call me old-fashioned, but I can't help thinking that giving someone $18,700 brings them round to your side more quickly than bombing the hell out of them. They could certainly buy a lot of lavatory paper with it.
What my friends didn't understand is that we no longer believe in spending them on social programs, on helping people. That supposedly breeds dependency on government, which presents a "moral hazard." But as long as they're not our people, we've never been reluctant about spending deficit dollars in huge quantities for "bombing the hell out of them."