January 29, 2004

Why Are We Ruled by These Fools?: Part CCCVIII

The MinuteMan notes that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, and that the chocolate ration has been raised again:

JustOneMinute: Rumsfeld Completes The Slow Flip-Flop: After months of "we don't need a bigger army", we are told that we do need a bigger army. Temporarily. People who worry about the planning process in Washington (or the connection with reality) will worry about this.

I'll stop calling this administration "Orwellian" when they stop using 1984 as an operations manual.

Posted by DeLong at January 29, 2004 10:39 AM | TrackBack

Comments

I dunno... a lot of people have been claiming that Rumsfeld was wrong and that we needed a bigger army, more troops in Iraq, etc.

Assuming that it's actually the case that in order to achieve the foreign policy goals of the current administration, that we do need a bigger army, what would you prefer Rumsfeld do? I can only think of a few alternatives. Continued Denial: "We can do what we want with a smaller army, just like I've been saying." Change force size to meet goals: "I said we needed a smaller army. I was wrong. To do what we're being asked to do, we need a larger army." Change goals to meet force size: "Given our smaller army, we can't stabilize Iraq. So we're going to leave."

Continued denial is obviously no good - you can't fool the real world. Given that the military is a tool for foreign policy as opposed to foreign policy existing to give the military something to do, the last option seems similarly undesireable. Is it just the lack of explicit admission of error that makes this Orwellian? Or do you think there are more sinister motives at work?

Posted by: Jake McGuire on January 29, 2004 11:04 AM

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This is not really related to the topic at hand, but I noticed this post on OMM's site: http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2004/01/factcheckers_wa.html#c545848. Is it me, or are these people acting in a bizarre, possibly even stupid way, when Krugman did nothing wrong? I could very well be missing something while reading that commentary, and if I am, somebody please tell me what's going past me.

Posted by: Brian on January 29, 2004 11:23 AM

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Brian,

That site looks like a right-wing echo chamber to me...

Posted by: liberal on January 29, 2004 12:01 PM

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We don't need a bigger army; we need a smaller appetite for foreign wars. Does anyone really understand why we need a $400 billion defense budget to fight people who live in caves?

Posted by: tstreet on January 29, 2004 12:02 PM

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Of the eight million valid complaints to make against the Administration, this doesn't strike me as one of them.

We do need a bigger army, under present demands. I'm never for criticizing people for the simple act of changing their mind. That's a pretty dangerous thing to do, as a general rule, to establish the principle that people should remain blind and inflexible, and be criticized for saying "oh, I was wrong" or "oh, new conditions call for new decisions," or some variant.

And, in this case, I don't see what's Orwellian. Or even why this is a decision made by "fools." Let's not get carried away just because they're criticizable in that way on other issues.

Posted by: Gary Farber on January 29, 2004 12:04 PM

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The long term costs of a bigger army are quite high. Think salaries, health care, benefits, pension obligations. There are significant long term costs to the defense budget if we expand.

Posted by: bakho on January 29, 2004 12:14 PM

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Any more posts like this and Brad may get an award named after him on andrewsullivan.com. That would be high praise indeed.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on January 29, 2004 01:22 PM

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Don't give these fools a bigger anything to work with. The volunteer services may be the only check on their supidity. Certainly the checks and balances of the other two branches arent functional.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on January 29, 2004 01:24 PM

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The commentary doesn't make much sense, Brad. If he was wrong before and changed his mind, or saw new data that forced a change, would keeping the previous decision intact be the _right_ move? I seem to recall that Keynes said something about this topic. :^)

Bernard Guerrero

Posted by: Bernard Guerrero on January 29, 2004 03:07 PM

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liberal,

Tha could very well be true. It just seems like they are purposely twisting and blurring things to try and catch Krugman on something. Take, for instance, the person who cited Luskin: Luskin only discussed payroll and income taxes. Capital gains taxes, which, if memory serves me correctly, are not included in either of those two categories, were cut along with income taxes. Why did Luskin and others not include that information? I could end up being wrong about this - I don't have time to crunch the numbers now - but just because something had a huge increase does not mean it was a large portion of the overall budget, which leads me to believe that people saying that a 22% increase, to pick a random figure, proves Krugman wrong is just stupid.

Ah, I'm sorry if that was way too long, but I am in a hurry.

Posted by: Brian on January 29, 2004 03:13 PM

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Who has ever heard of an increase in defense spending being temporary? It's been almost 15 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and I'm still waiting for my peace dividend.

Posted by: Joe Bob on January 29, 2004 05:07 PM

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We're paying for an offensive military force, not a defensive force.

Our military projects power to protect the interest of the elites that get into trouble overseas and need the US Government to bail them out.

The rich in the USA are the biggest socialists in the world.

So, when should we expect a draft? Who is willing to send their son or daughter to die for government lies?

Posted by: Phil on January 29, 2004 06:11 PM

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Gary Farber wrote, "We do need a bigger army, under present demands."

I don't know about the size of the army *per se*, but overall military spending is far too high. Look at stats re US military spending as a percent of world military spending, or look at US military spending versus possible enemy regimes. Over many decades.

Furthermore, the US doesn't have to allot any of its regular army to defending its borders, unlike many other nations. (Which is the point Phil makes: "We're paying for an offensive military force, not a defensive force.")

Posted by: liberal on January 30, 2004 05:46 AM

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As a member of the Army and a economic junky I pay close attention to Rumsfeld's confusion over what to do with the Army.

The DoD's budget is really damn big, and could easily be cut alot (oh, to pick a number, 30%) AND have an effectively larger force IF resources were readjusted to support things the military actually does.

$10 billion for training over a million troops, but $9 billion to build FIVE ships?! Ships designed to pulverize an non-existent naval threat (okay, maybe China in 20 years, maybe). That's insanity.

Posted by: 74D on January 30, 2004 09:23 AM

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