The S(pl)urge: Of Course It’s Working

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.

Fort Worth native E. R. Bills is the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional & Nefarious and Tell-Tale Texas: Investigations in Infamous History. Read other articles by E.R..

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Giorgio said on July 26th, 2008 at 8:16am #

    “Instead of vilifying, chasing down and prosecuting illegal aliens, why not just pay them to stay home?”

    EXACTLY! Since the Federal Reserve Bank is so adept at printing dollars out of thin air, instead of bailing out the fat cats, post $300/month to the billions of poverty stricken in the world and voilà! poverty is eradicated from this global village with just a fick of a finger! And it will be far less inflationary!

    May be GW Bush and his henchmen should be taught th merits of LATERAL THINKING, instead of sticking to the Stone Age’s long stale tactic of BULLDOZER thinking…

    This with the added benefit that the money will make the world go round much faster and to the benefit of far many more people….

    But of course, they TOO STUPID to twig at such an idea!

  2. Deadbeat said on July 26th, 2008 at 11:21am #

    Giving direct stipends to people is clearly a much smarter and more humane economic policy than throwing people into prison. And Giorgio is correct that doing so is less inflationary. The real truth is what causes inflation is the concentration of wealth and power. Economic like to indoctrinate people into believing that when workers get raises that they cause inflation which go to show how Economics is not a science at all but really all about politics.

  3. bozhidar balkas said on July 26th, 2008 at 1:28pm #

    we’l have house of horrors w. us for at least 2 decades. so, whether it may be surge/splurge, uncle sam obtains important real estate.
    for now just palstn, iq, and afgh’n.
    later it’l be syria, lebanon, jordan (in case abdullah had other thoughts) and onto ‘stans, outer mongolia, and past the chinese wall.
    plutos love this planet, especially once socialism is destroyed.
    but to obtain the choice parts of the globe, plutos will have to ante up megabucks to the uncle.
    the choicest parts wil be siberia and lands around the poles. darkies will obtain or keep ovens where even tomatoes may evaporate in a few hours or minutes.
    as the uncle said, U’r with us or against us. probably 99.99% of the world plutos r w. the uncle.
    and that’s the only people that matter as far as uncle is concerned.
    actually, dear uncle wants most darkies to be against him. and, do i need to tell u why?
    there is no way the plutos will feed 7bn ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’, ‘uneducated’ people.
    the planet surely will not be able to support that many people. in a cent or so, much of the planet may be uninhabitable and much more needy.
    these analyses, folks, explains miltaristic frenzy.
    or we cd say that ants have always known that basics never change.
    ants have been on this planet for ca bn yrs but still toil/die/r eaten/stepped on/hated.
    thank u

  4. Beverly said on July 26th, 2008 at 6:21pm #

    Don’t get carried away commending Obama for “taking the high ground.”

    Obama is an expert at saying all the right things but his actions (or inaction) speak much louder. He loves to crow about the mess that is Iraq and how he would not have voted for the war but has voted to continue funding it the last 4 times such a vote has come up.

    Obama continues to backpeddle and parse words on when he would withdraw troops. Most telling, he mentions withdrawing combat troops – the majority of troops in Iraq are noncombat. Now he talks up moving said troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, another quamire without a clear directive. Plus, he’s still wagging a hawkish finger a Iran. AND, like a true Kennedy Camelot clone, he’s talking smack about Latin America. So much for that token diplomacy he alluded to in the primaries.

    Disregard any “comendable comments” from the forked tongued one. Imperialism under President Obama will differ little from the current occupant – he’ll just be more charmingly cunning when he twists the knife.

  5. Max Shields said on July 26th, 2008 at 7:20pm #

    Good points Beverly. Makes you wonder about the sagacity and depth of critical thinking Mr. Bills brings to his subject. Most of his post has been well document and redundantly stated here.


  6. Mary Ann Schallert said on July 26th, 2008 at 10:32pm #

    Sure, Bush/Cheney and co. use our money as they see fit. But not to take proper care of our wounded soldiers, not to screen for and treat PTSD, not to make sure more of our poor children have access to health care, not to build or re-build US crumbling infrastructure such as unsafe bridges…. I could go on and on. Sure, lets pay everyone in the world and not ever take care of our own, Why are most Americans still sitting on their hands while they do this? Why is our Congress asleep at the wheel? Stupid, really stupid.

  7. Jeff Bartlett said on July 27th, 2008 at 9:35pm #

    Wow, that was one of the best articles I have read in awhile and certainly a some good ideas. The only problem I see is when you give the guy the new car, college and all that and he still is hooked on the powder.

    And with illegal aliens, if we were paying them directly, don’t you think even more would try and make it to the USA???

    I do agree, however, that Obama could out the government and walk to the white house, but why start playing dirty when its a cake walk as is? Unless the Cheney gang stages some terrorist act within the USA to scare people into voting McCain, Obama will have a new address come the new year.

    You can’t just print money and expect inflation not to have an effect, Giorgio! Although I am sure they are less than truthful in the amounts in circulation, I doubt that they are printing it like some nations have done….

  8. Ben said on July 29th, 2008 at 7:33pm #

    Waaaay back when, circa February 2003, I distinctly recall making the suggestion on a local online ranting forum that the problems in Iraq could be best addressed not by pricey military adventure, but by simply paying *each and every* Iraqi citizen $10k and tell them to deal with Saddam Hussein themselves. “Glad” is note quite the sensation I feel at reading that finally we get around to trying this approach.

    With a population of 27Million, this would amount to a $270Billion expense. Much cheaper than the war, at current tallies:

  9. SZ said on July 31st, 2008 at 3:22pm #

    As I recall from reading the news recently, Iraq Oil Surplus was estimated at 70 $ Billion this year and Iraq Government was at loss of ways to pass these fortunes to the citizens an that Maliki was handing out cash. This probably has more to do with quelling Iraqi based rebellion although the Saudi Mujahedeen are sure to be well supplied for a long time.