Every day John McCain chastises Barrack Obama for his original stance on the surge. McCain says Obama said the surge wouldn’t work and was bald-faced wrong. Obama says the surge has been effective, but there were other factors involved.
What’s suspicious about Obama’s response is that it trusts the American people to ponder those other factors. Obama could come right out and enumerate them, and John McCain and even General David Petraeus would have egg on their faces. The other factors are not a secret; they’re simply embarrassing because they expose the success of the surge to ridicule and pessimism.
I commend Obama for taking the high ground, but there’s not enough room for all of us in the thin air, and I think it’s time we spoke frankly about the Bush Administration’s most effective secret weapon.
All you need to know about the “surge” is that it should have been called the “splurge.” Sure, we sent 30,000 extra troops to Iraq, but during the first six months of the operation, violence went up, not down. As Retired Army Colonel Douglas McGregor put it, “Up until that point, the surge was simply providing more targets for the insurgents to shoot at.”
Under extreme pressure to produce results and fill less body bags, General Petraeus cut deals with armies of enemy combatants. These deals, now part of what is referred to as the Concerned Local Citizens program, simply pay insurgents to become temporary allies of the U. S. military. Approximately 70,000 former enemy combatants are now paid to play nice and all it costs us is $700,000 a day.
That’s right. For $255 million a year, 70,000 IED-planting, sniper-firing, roadside-booby-trapping insurgents will be our friends and the death toll will drop and we can pat ourselves on the back because the “surge” is working or at least paying off in better press.
Curiously, conservatives, Republicans and Neocons are notorious for their contempt and opposition towards hand-outs. As they strut around golf courses and hunting lodges, martinis in hand, they grandly extol the merits of pulling one’s self up by his or her own bootstraps. These days, however, they’re polishing the boots of our heretofore enemies in Iraq and giving them per diem hand-outs so we can look like we’re no longer fumbling over our own bootstraps.
Now I’m usually loath to get behind any conservative, Republican or Neocon ideas, but I like this one. It’s an excellent flip-flop. In fact, I recommend we apply it to more of our problems.
So far this year, our federal, state and local governments have spent $56 billion on the War on Drugs and arrested just over one million drug law offenders. That amounts to $56,000 per offender, not including long-term incarceration costs. Why not pay offenders to clean up and stand on the sidelines? A few years of college and a pimpin’ ride with 20’ titanium rims would cost less than fifty-six large. And our courtrooms would be less log-jammed and our prisons would be less overcrowded.
Instead of vilifying, chasing down and prosecuting illegal aliens, why not just pay them to stay home? Mexicans abroad sent $23 billion home in 2006 and even with the housing market slump and the American economy flailing, they’ll probably send at least $15 billion home this year. I say double their 2006 homeward remittances and start mailing checks to their residences in Mexico. It would be cheaper than trying to catch and prosecute them or station troops on our border or build border walls, right?
Each Iraqi insurgent we’re paying off will receive a $3,640 this year (plus bragging and thumbing-his-nose-at-the-U.S. rights). That’s six times more than each of us received in George W. Bush’s measly economic stimulus package. And it doesn’t even account for our higher cost of living expenses or inflation. I think we’re being ripped off.
We’re stateside “Concerned Local Citizens” and if President Bush and John McCain want us to keep voting Republican, pledging allegiance to Exxon Mobile and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and condemning homosexuality and comparing Obama with Nazis, they better ante up.
Lots of folks in this country say that money is what makes the world go round. The Bush Administration is clearly proof of that, but they’re thinking too small. It’s time to spread the wealth. If we’re gonna pretend to be happy and sit idly by while they continue to screw everything up, the least they could do is compensate us accordingly.
It’s the smart play. And it’ll make their war against us go much more smoothly.