Heterodox Views on Politics and Public Policy from Michael Blaine

Friday, August 17, 2007

John Edwards Talks Some Sense on the Military

Retreat or Advance?

"Military leaders are warning about 'breaking' the force. It is tempting for politicians to respond to this situation by trying to outbid one another on the number of troops they would add to the military . . . But the problem of our force structure is not best dealt with by a numbers game. We must be more thoughtful about what the troops would actually be used for."

--John Edwards, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2007

Alone among so-called major presidential candidates, John Edwards appears to understand that the raw number of troops the US military can muster ceased to matter with the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. Further evidence of this fact came with the American defeat in Vietnam, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. And, nearly every day for the past four-and-a-half years in Iraq, we have been taught the lesson again. The ability to apply massive, blunt force no longer helps a "superpower" very much at all.

To the contrary, large-scale spending on the military diverts scarce financial resources from economically productive activities, and removes our youth from civilian life, where they could have become teachers, engineers and entrepreneurs. Instead, they are added to the ranks of trained killers in an anachronisitc insitution that is tantamount to a federal jobs program. In other words, militarization stunts and diminishes our nation, without making us any stronger or safer.

As an alternative, Mr. Edwards proposes establishing a new organization -- the Marshall Corps -- consisting of "at least 10,000 civilian experts who could be deployed abroad to serve in reconstruction, stabilization, and humanitarian missons." He predicts such a corps will be useful "to stabilize weak and failing states and provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of disasters across the world." This is both an enlightened and prgamatic idea that surely would serve US foreign policy interests better than the application of violence, as in Iraq. Unfortunately, Edwards' support of just this sadistic and reckless action when he was in the Senate greatly undermines his credibility now.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Which do taxpayers prefer to fund?

A freeway bridge over the Mississippi river collapsed in Minneapolis last night. Not only did this interrupt the Minnesota Twins' baseball season, but four motorists are confirmed dead, with up to thirty missing. Perhaps it is a good time, then, to reassess priorities and refocus our collective attention:

Spending so far on the war in Iraq: $448,593,276,851

Spending on inspecting and maintaining the I-35W bridge: ?

Number of deaths in Minnesota history caused by terrorists: 0

Number of deaths in Minnesota,
caused by the collapse of the I-35W bridge: Up to 34

Before continuing to venture abroad to fight bogeymen who are either figments of the national imagination, or created only by our aggression itself, perhaps the US should begin to tend its own garden. And stop public funding for the construction of billionaire Carl Pohlad's new Twins stadium immediately. Minnesotans need the money for a new bridge.