From Churchill’s Parrot blog at www.churchillsparrot.com

As the obvious costs of the Long War in the Iraqi theater increasingly reveal themselves – even to war critics – as worth it, Congressional Democrats have hastily pieced together their latest strategy for ensuring defeat: the Hidden Costs of the War.

Effervescent with the zeal of their new found fiscal conservativism, Democrats gleefully presented their “Hidden Cost” report last week citing a $12 billion a month expense tied to military operations, interest payments on money borrowed to pay for wars, lost investment, the expense of long-term health care for injured veterans, and, of course, the cost of oil market disruptions which is – evidently – entirely due to American intervention in Iraq. These “Hidden Costs” bring the war tab to roughly $1.3 trillion for Iraq alone; an obscene amount of money and far too monstrous a burden to place upon the American tax payer say these champions of fiscal responsibility. Thus , the Democrats believe themselves justified in demanding cuts to military spending and effectively letting go of the ropes just as it appears the American military is about to hoist the Iraqis from over the edge of the cliff.

Not surprisingly, there is some doubt as to the efficacy of these numbers. In fact, senior Republicans on Congress’s Joint Economic Committee have called for the withdrawal of the “Hidden Costs” report, claiming its methodology flawed and facts in error. This remains to be established, however, we have little doubt this is the case. As Rush Limbaugh points out,

“Folks, if this war had cost $1.5 trillion (for both Iraq and Afghanistan), that’s half of the federal budget!”

Not to suggest that the Democrats are exaggerating their case, but they have been known to do a bit of theater now and again haven’t they? Mr. Limbaugh continues,

“But more importantly, every social program that the United States Congress has introduced has never been constrained by its actual proposed cost. Social Security, Medicare, you name it, Medicaid, they all balloon beyond what we are told they are going to cost.”

This painful truth is made blisteringly clear in a recent report by the Heritage Foundation’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. In short, the report chronicles how, in less than one year, the aforementioned “fiscally conservative” Democratic Congress has:

  • Enacted $98 billion in tax increases while also passing a budget resolution that assumes approximately $2.7 trillion in tax increases over the next decade;
  • Increased entitlement spending by $179 billion over 10 years–barely half of which is paid for;
  • Appropriated $22 billion more for discretionary programs in fiscal year 2008 than President Bush requested, which will cost $275 billion over 10 years;
  • Added more than $300 billion to deficit spending over the next decade; and
  • Repeatedly violated their own ethics reforms, while including 11,351 pork projects in the spending bills.

It would seem, perhaps, our Democratic congresspersons are somewhat selective in their fiscal conservativism?

Here, it is instructive to remind ourselves of the precise verbs employed in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States delineating the limits and duties of American government: “… provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare….” (Emphasis added). You see the distinction?  To “provide” is to furnish, to supply, to make ready, to prepare.  To “promote” is to contribute to the progress or growth of, to further.  The words are not, nor were they intended to be, interchangeable.  To put it in the vernacular of modern corporate America, funding defense is JOB ONE for the Federal government.
“But,” the Lefties will of course counter, “Iraq poses no threat to our national security and our abandoning it will net no negative consequences.”  I find these arguments and the circumstances provoking them profoundly (and disturbingly) reminiscent of the summer of 1938.

At that time, despite Sir Winston Churchill’s incessant haranguing as to the gathering storm of Nazi aggression, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his cabinet chose not only to marginalize Sir Winston and ignore his warnings, but also to continue minimizing British defense expenditures so as to leave England virtually defenseless.  Why? In his masterful treatise, “Winston Churchill’s Prewar Effort to Increase Military Spending,”  Mr. Williamson Murray writes, 

“To a certain extent, the government’s initial response reflected its readings of the British electorate’s mood and the deep hostility to any idea of rearmament throughout virtually all of British society.”

Sound familiar?  The suicidal folly of all this, and where pre-World War II England perhaps most closely parallels the present day American dynamic regarding Iraq, came clear in May of 1938 as the debate over what to do about  Czechoslovakia’s predominantly German Sudetenland began heating up. Hitler wanted it.  England and France had sworn to protect it. Chamberlain crumbled and surrendered Czechoslovakia to Hitler.
Murray points out,

“As the great twentieth-century historian of Eastern Europe Louis Namier has pointed out, the 1,250 pages of published documents on British foreign policy dealing with the Czech crisis over the summer of 1938 contain not a single reference to the strategic and military impact of abandoning Czechoslovakia without a fight and the consequences that such an action would have on the European military balance of power in succeeding years.”

Today, we all know the strategic and military impact of that decision.  The lesson, however, appears lost upon many.
In fact England and France could likely have stopped Hitler once and for all at the Czech juncture. But the mindset of Appeasement and distaste for conflict saw them opt to postpone the inevitable, with near apocalyptic consequences. Again, however, only Sir Winston appreciated the reality of the situation:

“All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness. She has suffered in every respect by her association with France, under whose guidance and policy she has been actuated for so long…. Every position has been undermined and abandoned on specious and plausible excuses.

I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week, the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth….They should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged and that the terrible words have for the time been spoken against the Western Democracies: “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.” And do not suppose that this is the end. This is the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup….”
– Sir Winston Churchill, October 1938.

Having tasted again that bitter cup in 2001, America, under the leadership of George W. Bush, heeded this lesson of history and proactively sought to neutralize its enemies before they grew any stronger than they already were. Progress has been made, to the ultimate benefit of all mankind.  To stop now – particularly for such petty and specious reasons as cited by Congressional Democrats – would be the moral equivalent of England’s sell out of Czechoslovakia, and a strategic and military disaster of potentially even greater proportions. Behold, the true “Hidden Costs” we cannot afford to pay.

Cheers,

Charlie
www.churchillsparrot.com

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