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We don’t believe in economic stimulus at home, but apparently it’s OK to do it for the Taliban

Posted by DownWithTyranny on August 17th, 2011

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

With all that taxpayer moolah we’re shoving directly and indirectly into Taliban piggybanks, can’t we at least try to persuade them to “Buy American”? Or is this what’s meant by “globalism”?

by Ken

And the, uh, good news, is that we managed to transfer this particular $360 million to the Taliban without having to give more than a modest amount of it directly. Most of it just sort of wound up in their hands.

Maybe it’s because I had just read a review by Charles Rosen in the New York Review of Books of a new translation by John Ashbery of the prose poems of Rimbaud (the review, which also covers a new translation by Karl Kirchwey of Verlaine’s Poems Under Saturn; only a digest is available free online, but if you’re interested let me know and I’ll see that you’re taken care of), but I can’t help feeling that what the folks at The American Prospect have achieved in today’s “Balance Sheet” report, “A Stimulus for the Taliban,” qualifies as some sort of prose poem. After telling us about AP’s report (“$360M lost to insurgents, criminals in Afghanistan“) “that the U.S. military, after going through hundreds of combat support and reconstruction contracts, estimates that $360 million in U.S. tax dollars has ended up in the hands of the Taliban,” The Balance Sheet, um, explains:

In a confusing process described as “reverse money laundering,” money moves from the United States to companies hired for transportation, construction, power projects and similar jobs who turn out to have ties to criminal networks. Only a small chunk of that $360 million was directly given to the Taliban; the bulk of the money was lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion by criminals and power brokers.

Say what?

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure breathing easier knowing that “only a small chunk of that $360 million was directly given to the Taliban.” After all, aren’t those “criminals and power brokers” who extracted “the bulk of the money” via “profiteering, bribery and extortion” merely enacting an Afghan version of the Republican plan for turning the U.S. economy around? Isn’t this pretty much what cesspools of corruption like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have in mind when they talk about “job creation”? Of course the only decent-paying jobs are for the profiteers, bribers, and extorters, but it’s often true that a certain number of grunt-level jobs trickle down to the yawping masses.

As we’ve pointed out frequently, at least the huge sums that vanish down DoD ratholes normally provide a certain amount of economic stimulus, one of the few kinds apparently still permissible in the Teabagging Era — it’s what we call “military Keynesianism,” and the Fiscal Prudes of the Right don’t at all like to talk about it. However, at least that money tends to be shoveled into our own economy, whereas this particular $360M seems to have vanished into assorted Afghan ratholes. Criminal Afghan ratholes. And of course the Taliban.

The DoD is on the case, however. The Balance Sheet further reports:

The Department of Defense announced Monday that they would reduce subcontracting, and thus the number of connections to the criminal network. Additionally, U.S. authorities in Afghanistan are screening contractors more carefully, and are more aggressively barring companies that violate contract terms or are involved in illicit behavior. They hope this kind of scrutiny will prevent more money from getting to the pockets of the very people the U.S. is supposed to be fighting.

The Balance Sheet also includes — in its “The Experts” side panel — a quote from a piece by Karen DeYoung in yesterday’s Washington Post (this is the correct link: “U.S. military awards contracts in Afghanistan to get money away from insurgents“):

U.S. commanders have argued that outsourcing the transport and security frees up the U.S. warfighters to handle more important missions. The only alternative, said a senior congressional staff member speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss information not yet released, is “to reduce the [U.S.] footprint in Afghanistan.”

Policymakers and the public need to understand, he said, that “the cost of doing business is that we have to pay, effectively, our enemy for the right to be there.”

Since that’s clearly crazytalk, the business about reducing the U.S. footprint in Afghanistan, I guess we just have to go on paying our enemy for the right to be there. Which segues right into the other “expert” quote offered by The Balance Sheet, from the AP report linked above (here’s another correct link):

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., former chairman of the House oversight panel that investigated the wayward payments, said that the U.S. must stop the diversion of taxpayer dollars to the enemy. “When war becomes good business for the insurgents, it is all the more difficult to convince them to lay down their arms,” Tierney said.

One might add, though, that a good part of the problem from a budgetary standpoint — meaning in particular from a debt and deficit standpoint — is that war is such excellent business for our own domestic profiteers, bribers, and extorters. And it actually produces a decent number of decent-paying jobs. But like I said, our friends the Fiscal Prudes never like to talk about military Keynesianism. So just forget I said anything.

Say, how ’bout that weather?



Of course weather talk is apt to lead to climate-change talk, and we’re not supposed to talk about that either. So just never mind.

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