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Saturday, December 4, 2010

CURRENT WARS

I received an e-mail inquiring why I did not mention the Afghanistan War yesterday.  Well, my position is that we should get out as soon as possible, and, while it is costing us too much money, I've long given up on bothering to waste my time on the inevitable, which in our tenth year, will reach the same conclusion as Iraq.  We will win both wars, so we will station troops there for many decades (as in Europe, Japan and Korea).

In case you lost track, there are 28,000 in South Korea, 31,000 in Japan, and almost 80,000 in Europe.  Add more than 10,000 in Kuwait to augment the 50,000 in Iraq and 100,000 in Afghanistan.  This sum alone is 300,000.  If it is true that each soldier in Iraq costs the taxpayer $390,000, then we could save more than $100 billion/year by bringing them all home, and reduce military personnel by this number.

There is absolutely no reason why we should have any active military in Europe and Japan.  Russia will only decline over the next few decades and China is too smart to go beyond building up just enough to elbow, posture and intimidate other countries of the Orient.  Heck, let them work out their problems.

For the record, here is the current world situation on wars:
Major wars (1000 deaths or more/year) are in black and other conflicts in purple.

The internal conflict in Columbia, for example, has been going on for 46 years with up to 200,000 deaths.  The black on Mexico:  drug wars.  That war in Afghanistan, by the way, is almost a third of a century old, with up to 2 million deaths.  The Arab-Israel conflict has been going on since 1948 and has not yet reached 100,000 deaths.  Of course, one Iranian nuclear attack and 3 million could go in Tel Aviv alone.

So, we now have some sparks in Korea.  Wonder why North Korean shelling of Yeonpyeong dropped out of the limelight?  Simple, South Korea shot first.  The most quoted statement from Seoul is, "Stock up on instant noodles."  Of course the new Minister of Defense, another Kim (Kwan-jin), was told to say:  "In case the enemy attacks our territory and people again, we will thoroughly retaliate to ensure that the enemy cannot provoke again."  I bet Kim (Jong Un, the next leader of the North, photo to left) was not particularly cowed.

There was a plateauing of military expenditures for nearly a decade after the end of the Cold War in 1991 to "only a trillion dollars/year," but a pointless steep rise for the past decade to $1.6 trillion/year.
Then President Barack Obama calls for a freeze on NON-military salaries for two years.  First, he should have included all government salaries, but, more so, begin to set the tone for significant military cuts.  Why as Commander in Chief he is so bullied by Republicans on defense I just can't understand.

About the ultimate with respect to wars, I was particularly surprised that the Doomsday Clock is still at 6 minutes to midnight.  It was originally placed at 7 minutes in 1947, and dropped back to 2 minutes when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union exploded hydrogen bombs in 1953.   It was set up to 17 minutes in 1991 at the signing of the START treaty, the furthest from doom, ever, but, I guess North Korea and Iran spook the Union of Concerned Scientists.  Now, if the clock is an indicator of any bomb dropping on people, then, perhaps, but the prospects of a nuclear winter during the Cold War are gone.  Realistically, the clock today should today be at one hour or a few days.

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