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Afghanistan: “Obama’s War”

This was the lead story – front-page, above-the-fold-in yesterday’s edition of USA Today: Obama’s war: Deploying 17,000 raises stakes in Afghanistan.

I found this striking because almost every other news venue was covering economic issues, devoting attention either to the slightly expanded mortgage-holder relief program that the Obama administration is beginning to push or the new requests for billions of dollar in corporate welfare requested by GM and Chrysler.

Like most Americans, I cannot judge how much of a threat to international or national peace the Taleban continues to pose: I simply do not have access to the relevant information. But I do think we need to keep an eye on foreign military adventures as we ride the all-too-adventurous roller-coaster of economic affairs.

This deployment to Afghanistan, while not at all expected, is scheduled to occur before any draw downs in troops in Iraq. That’s worrisome. But what is also worrisome is the tendency Presidents have to use military buildups to jumpstart the economy. How will be know whether the build-up in Afghanistan addresses national security (we have the same Secretary of Defense we had under the George W. Bush administration) or whether it is serving as a locus of unquestionable spending, rather like Operation Desert Shield during the George H.W. Bush term or Grenada during the Reagan years?

For those of us who would like to see government spending meant to help the economy concentrated on domestic infrastructure, rebuilding our own country rather than ravaging another one, how will we hold this administration accountable for assuring us that it is not using the good old military-industrial complex and the new tactic of shouting “terrorist” to siphon funds to the special interest groups that will push for military spending in Afghanistan but who have little or no interest in domestic improvements?

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