Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Losing Wars is Always Bad (Or: Why Fred Kagan is Full of S^#*)

Sometimes you see an article referred to by someone as great and making a rock solid case for something that is horribly misguided and/or evil, and can't help but think, "What in the f$#*ing hell is wrong with this f$#*ing person who wrote this vile nonsense?"

This is the case whenever someone mentions anything written by Fred Kagan. F. Kagan (get it?) is a Jabba the Hut looking, chickenhawk, a warmongering, slovenly douchebag. He's like William Kristol if William Kristol devoured another former communist warmonger who is wrong about everything at all times.

I became aware of this six page work of sophistry by F. Kagan on Scott Horton's blog. A regular there asked for someone to take F. Kagan apart, so I happily obliged. Here's most of that piece (with some editing/proofreading) with the beginning addition of a quote that describes F. Kagan:
In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which they pay on account of the war, and those which they had been accustomed to pay in time of peace. They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book 5, Chapter 3: Of Public Debts
Fred Kagan is at it again. He's written another six page article for National Socialist Review Online, so he's got another six pages of stupidity and bullshit. He starts with this beauty:
Losing wars is always bad. One of the major reasons for America’s current global predominance economically and politically is that America doesn’t lose wars very often. It seems likely, however, that the American people are about to be told that they have to decide to lose the Iraq war, that accepting defeat is better than trying to win, and that the consequences of defeat will be less than the costs of continuing to fight.
I have to wonder if losing wars is always bad, how was the War on Iraqis good for Iraqis? I'll have to read more to [probably not] find out!

I was pleased to find that F. Kagan immediately found use for Neville Chamberlain, famed gimp and whipping boy of the Neoconservatives.

Neville Chamberlain as seen appeasing Hitler in the 1930s, photograph by Q. Tarantino
Our Brave Modern-Day Winston Churchill, then goes into detailing what the "antiwar party" is wrong about in it's common "talking points" (who knew that antiwar people were so influential and organized?) He starts with "THE WAR COSTS TOO MUCH" He writes,
Modern economics has long understood that the notion of a one-for-one guns-versus-butter trade-off is simply wrong. A high proportion of money spent on defense goes back into the U.S. economy in the form of salaries paid to the more than 5 million Americans employed directly or indirectly by the Defense Department, and payments to the defense industry and the long and complex supply chains from which they draw their raw materials. Military spending has traditionally been a form of economic stimulus, and wars more commonly end recessions or depressions than start them. That’s not a good reason to start a war, but neither is it a good reason to lose one.
And then follows to say that it's a smaller percentage of GDP than some past wars. As though the percentage of GDP on defense spending actually fucking means something.

But back to that first part, Brave Dr. Kagan-Churchilll might want to read some slightly older economic analysis like "The parable of the broken window". The costs, that Dr. Kagan-Churchill Phd. from Harvard University in Economics apparently knows nothing of, are that those natural resources and finished goods consumed by the government, and the hundreds of millions of hours of labor put towards the war effort could have instead been put to other productive uses. Like people providing for themselves and their families.

People would have spent the money the Federal Gov't taxed from them and used to destroy Iraqi lives on something else had the government not taken it from them. People could have borrowed and invested in new businesses that create jobs. Or invested it into R&D producing goods and services that save and enrich people's lives. But the Federal Gov't used that money to destroy Iraqi cities and lives instead.

And finally, the US Gov't was run by people who thought the Iraqi Destruction sooooooo worthwhile, that they didn't even pay for most of it either of those ways. They created billions of dollars out of thin air via the Federal Reserve Sysytem silently sucking wealth out of American's (and other people holding dollars) pockets via the hidden tax of inflation. Mostly hurting the poor, working class, and people on fixed incomes, by the way.

Dr. Kagan-Churchill is correct in noting that the military-industrial complex benefitted though. They always do.

The bulbous f$#* continues,
The war has caused the upcoming recession.

Using mercantilist arguments common in the 18th century but subsequently shown to be wrong, war opponents have successfully spread the notion that military spending is causing the economy to slow and contract — they have been successful enough that a large majority of Americans believe this falsehood to be true.
If Dr. Kagan-Churchill actually read some debunking of merchantilist arguments by, say, Adam Smith, then he might be aware that it's not necessary for a nation to control a natural resource to obtain it on the open market. (Oil is a natural resource.)

He goes on to drone about Federal spending in relation to GDP as though that meant something significant, when, in fact, it means nothing. The USG has a much larger welfare state today than it did in 1933 when Neville Chamberlain didn't stop Hitler something, something, etc. There's also not a Cold War arms race going on today either, which might mean the defense budget is a different percentage of GDP. What with defense spending and non-defense spending being completely different from what they were in the 1950s and all. Call it a hunch.

Dr. Kagan who has a Phd. Economics continues,
High gas prices are the result of the war — and ending the war would lower gas prices.

There is a huge failure of logic here. Oil prices do not rise because American forces are in the Middle East — they rise because of instability and fighting in the Middle East. One of the most dramatic increases in oil prices in history occurred during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, when no American forces were present. The antiwar party argues that American failure in Iraq is inevitable and the violence will inevitably increase whatever we do.
Gas prices haven't gone up at all. I'm not sure what Dr. Kagan, Phd. in Economics from Stanford University, is talking about here. I buy my gasoline in the reliable Polish currency with an unspellable name, and the price I pay has declined several percent since George Bush picked up the pace of his Iraqi Genocide. Or I buy my gas with gold. The price has changed much with that either.

What Dr. Kagan apparently doesn't know, is that when the USG creates an assload of dollars out of thin air to pay for its imperial misadventures, the value per unit of that money freefalls. So, in that respect, Dr. Kagan is partially, though unintentionally correct: The price of oil can increase without a warmonger in Washington causing it to (although perhaps Dr. Kagan is unaware: The USG provided aid to both sides in the Iraq-Iran War including chemical weapons to Sadam Hussein. Maybe it's ok when he used those as long as it's not on his own people? But I digress.), but destroying the value of the US Dollar to pay for a war, does in fact cause the price of everything to go up sooner or later including petroleum.

The end of that paragraph F. Kagan writes this little gem,
If violence in Iraq is destined to increase, then the oil premium is destined to remain at least this high if not higher. In the real world, American forces are playing a key role in keeping the violence in Iraq down and preventing it from engulfing the region — if they are withdrawn prematurely, violence will spike and so will the price of oil.
Seeing as there is very little oil coming out of Iraq right now anyway, I'm not sure how huge a price spike would be if the volume were less than it already is. I suspect not very much.

Also, as Scott Horton pointed out F. Kagan talking about "withdrawing prematurely"? As noted in that Adam Smith quote earlier, F. Kagan likes to experience war vicariously through the reports of the US military because he himself is too much of a fat bloated coward to have ever been a participant in war. Is this just another case of him projecting? I report, you decide.

As I continue on to page 3 of this painful Kagan krap, I note that my right arm feels strangely numb, and I have begun to bleed from my left ear.

F. Kagan, economic genius, continues,
America just can’t afford this war any more, whatever the outcome.

This talking point is nothing more than a disingenuous attempt to make recent successes and the probability of future successes irrelevant. If the U.S. and its Iraqi allies can build on recent progress and move toward a situation in which Iraqi is stable, peaceful, and a U.S. ally — thereby avoiding the collapse of Iraq, the explosion of violence, and the likely increased intervention of Iraq’s neighbors that serious historical studies as well as facts on the ground show are very likely — then the U.S. can afford the price as put in its proper context above. If success is not possible, then we must discuss the best course of action to extricate ourselves.
He links in that pile of nonsense to two articles on how Iraq (which is going great, of course) could spill-over and become a regional civil war unless Wise Americans In Washington prevent it, and how Iran is interfering in their neighboring Iraq and providing training and support to Shia and Sunni groups.

The first claim is just pathetic. Kagan et al convince our idiot Decider to go destroy Iraq, so now those of us who had nothing to do with that horror have to be the ones to continue to pay and try to fix it.

The second accusation is pretty funny. Of course Iran is supporting the Iranian created Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq the ruling coalition of Shia parties founded in Iran by the Ayatollahs in the 70s or 80s, and the Dawa Party (aka Islamic Call) and the Hakim faction. Those are the new US-back Iraqi Government.

Also, why wouldn't the Iranian Government want the US to remain bogged down in Iraq with Cheney having more or less said Iran and Syria are getting destroyed next?

In any case, most of our elected officials are too stupid to actually go and learn anything about the disaster they've helped create in Iraq, and most Americans are kept in the dark by the garbage-quality reporting of corporate media.

So, there's little more to be said about this, really.

I wanted to continue on to cover the rest of page 3 and all the way to the idiotic conclusion on page 6, but I'm bleeding now from my right ear as well as my left and I feel difficulty breathing with a seizing pain in my chest.

Anymore F. Kagan may prove fatal.

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