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Escalation Rumors Escalate

Posted by Derrick Crowe on August 12th, 2009

It looks like reports of an escalation’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

This weekend, Obama’s National Security Advisor, Jim Jones, went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” to let us know that he never told commanders in Afghanistan that they’d have to make do with what they had. And, General McChrystal gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal to raise alarms about Taliban momentum, interpreted by many as laying groundwork for a troop increase request. However, MSNBC reported on Monday night that McChrystal is pushing back hard against the WSJ’s characterization of his words, which raises questions about the WSJ’s agenda. Regardless, multiple analysts and commentators in multiple media indicate that McChrystal will likely require more troops to implement what is known of his upcoming strategy recommendations.

In other words: unless we push back, hard, another escalation could be on its way.

There are a million reasons to oppose a troop increase in Afghanistan, but if you need just one, you might as well go with “cost.” Here’s a quick video using excerpts from Rethink Afghanistan Part Three: The Cost of War to drive the point home:

Here’s a chart from War Resisters League showing the rising cost of the so-called “War on Terror,” which includes Afghanistan:

War Resisters League bar chart

Much of this spending is financed through debt. As Geithner’s comments show, we do not have the luxury of indefinite deficit war spending. In fact, such spending helped create the economic crisis in the first place, as Stiglitz and Bilmes show in The Three Trillion Dollar War. As I wrote last month, “We have limits. Failure to consciously decide on those limits before we make further decisions does not mean those limits do not exist; it only means that we will be incrementally pushed toward and then past them, painfully and to our regret, before we discover them.”

We cannot afford continued war spending in Afghanistan, much less an escalation.

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