Talk about lost opportunities! Bloggers are having a field day with “What the cost of the Iraq War COULD have been used for …” (link). The BBC and others waded in with articles totaling up the costs and suggesting alternatives that might have been pursued (link) (link) (link). All this is very interesting and sad, but the real costs will go on and on, expressed in missed opportunities and huge tax dollars going to pay the interest on the debt the Bush Whitehouse has loaded on the backs of our descendants.
The more you look at it, the worse it gets. The results of the criminally-wasteful actions of the Bush administration will last a long time, unfortunately. The “could have” statements frame the lost opportunities. The huge debt the U.S. has incurred with our biggest trading partners, especially China and Japan (link), have changed the political and economic landscape in North America and abroad, as the debt holders can’t afford to have the U.S. economic slump add risk to the notes they’re holding.
A U.S. default on its war debt will not be permitted. If the U.S. economy should fall so far as to threaten default on its foreign debt, the world economy would be severely injured by the anticipation alone, so that won’t be allowed to happen. Instead, the debt holders will take action to protect their holdings, propping up the U.S. economy in the process. The damage to the U.S. will not be overcome for decades, however. This is especially important as these will be critical decades in the fight to mitigate global climate change, the effects of pollution, and various catastrophes resulting from our failure to help developing countries control their populations and build more ecologically-responsible infrastructures.
The U.S. stature in the world is continually being eroded. All my life I have believed the United States has no business trying to police the world, but power mongers, paranoids, pessimists, and hawks have continued to push in this direction. The U.S. behavior since WWII has been shameful (link) (link), and continues to be dominated by reactionaries and paranoids. (Note that the history of so-called American “diplomacy” is much longer, unfortunately (link).) Economics win out, however, and if it takes near-bankruptcy to stop the American war-making machine, then so be it. I don’t expect to enjoy the economic lows the country may reach, and there’s no telling how low it will go as the war costs continue to mount, but it has to bottom out sometime, hopefully sooner than later. (I do need my day job.)
A new focus is needed. In the end, we must all become more focused on the long path toward sustainability, a path that will be smoothed if we can get out of the cycle of blowing up our financial wherewithal, burning up our natural resources, and overpopulating the planet. Please vote with the long view in mind, and persistently tell your government representatives what you want, or they’ll never know.
I welcome your comments.