I just sent this letter to the editor of our local paper in reaction to a letter by Geoff Caldwell.
Globe columnist Geoff Caldwell (March 20, 2016) echoes The Economist journal in asking, “Where is Globocop?” His concern is the rise of ISIS and the failure of not propping up the failed and inept Iraqi state and its feckless military, a legacy from the Bush administration. He and the journal say our allies are “nervous” about this. Never mind that the latest study of the cost of the disastrous second Iraq war and its aftermath (from Brown University) is 1.1 trillion dollars and still counting. (That’s one-thousand billions plus one-hundred billions of dollars, put another way.) As in past columns, Mr. Caldwell blames president Obama for, well, everything, and now including failing to police the world.
“Where is Globocop?”, the Economist asks. Well, we are still pumping out Cold War munitions at a crazy pace, including a destroyer program that is now running over $3 Billion per ship and a gold-plated fighter bomber program exceeding $1.1 Trillion, if that means anything, although thanks to President Obama, the U.S. body count is hovering around the single digits lately. The column prompted me to look up what capabilities our nervous allies might have if they had to, heaven forbid, engage ISIS on their own. Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:
Country Defense $B Battle Tanks CombatA/C Active Military
U.K 61.8 227 278 205,000
Germany 43.9 410 245 183,000
France 53.1 200 395 228,000
Turkey 10 2,500 335 410,000
Saudi A. 80.8 600 313 233,500
Israel 21.1 500 440 176,000
Italy 24.3 160 440 320,000
Here are some questions. Is ISIS really too much for our allies to handle? Is it just possible that the rest of the Western world has grown so used to the U.S. defending them that they now expect it? Might it make sense for them to grow up and take responsibility for their own back yard? The U.S. defense budget is, get this, $580 Billion dollars. Doesn’t it make sense to let our allies do some stuff while we spend some of that money on, say, preventing lead poisoning in children and bridges from falling down? (Not exactly shock and awe, I know. Well, shock maybe.) Or even paring the national debt the GOP has been so worried about? So many questions.