So President Obama has announced that 30k troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of next year. If I sound unimpressed--I am. That means that the troop strength will fall back to what it was before all the troops 'withdrawn' from Iraq were sent in for another 'surge.' Of course, we have the usual divided opinion on the issue. What I notice, which doesn't bode well for the future, is no one is questioning whether we should have gone in the way we did in the first place. And I really can't credit those who think we would "lose everything we have gained" by withdrawing so many troops. Especially since this is part of what we have 'gained.' Don't you just love fighting for someone else's 'democracy.'
I have been following this story for a bit now. I wondered how the Democratic legislators' strategy would work--passing a budget that wasn't balanced and that the governor was likely to veto and then argue that merely passing the budget would suffice to keep their pay flowing. I am glad the comptroller has ruled against the scam. Of course, it will probably go to court. Another waste.
As I read this story I had a flashback to various histories I have read about the period between WWI and WWII. Russia provides Belarus a bailout which is supposed to help them pay their debts including the debts to Russian utilities providing power and Russia is now threatening to cut power because part of that bill hasn't been paid. The treaty ending WWI saddled Germany with horrendous reparations while France and Britain owed the U.S. fantastic sums for assistance during the war and U.S. exporters needed free-spending European customers to maintain their prosperity. So the American government gave Germany loans to pay the reparations to France and Britain which used the money to pay some of their obligations to the U.S. Government and buy goods from American producers. Of course, this was an upward spiral which was sustainable only as long the various economies were growing and when the Great Depression hit it imploded. The author of a blog I recently read diagrammed the relationships between the various players in the current sovereign debt morass and then translated the diagram into a more easily understandable form: one man with empty pockets transferring phantom money to another man with empty pockets who transfers phantom funds to a third man with empty pockets who transfers phantom money to the first man in an endless cycle. All three situations (the Belarus/Russian, the European present, and the European past) are eerily similar.
Tom Englehardt at tomdispatch has a nice little essay on the language of war as it has mutated over the last couple of decades. Take a look at why he says that 'victory' is the verbal equivalent of a 'yeti.'