The Straightaway

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Posts Tagged ‘bailout

The Cost of Victory

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While reading The Wall Street Journal Online Edition today, I was struck by the end of an opinion piece about Obama and his potential Iraq War policy:

Mr. Obama has inherited a victory in Iraq that he can’t afford to squander.

For many, calling the Iraq War a “victory” is ludicrous. After all, such an expensive project (in both lives and resources) that has produced only a mediocre suppression of violence can be nothing but a failure. Right?

Perhaps not. Cost aside, the war in Iraq has produced a resource-rich new democracy that has the potential to become the Unites States’ most valuable Middle Eastern Arab ally. If the upcoming regional elections go well, the continuing normalization of affairs in the country could allow Iraq to blossom into some more than it could have ever under Sadaam Hussein.

Understandably, the possibility of real success in Iraq is hard to swallow for the majority of Americans, who have come to hate the war and the man most associated to it – the outgoing President George W. Bush. They are angry about the sacrifices Americans have had to make to carry out Bush’s War, and they resent the damage the war has done to America’s international credibility. The American public seems to desire a hasty withdrawal out of Iraq.

This anger should not push the Obama administration to spoil what can still be done in Iraq. With a tempered withdrawal, U.S. forces can withdraw safely from Iraq within the next few years. A hasty withdrawal will do nothing but make certain that billions of dollars and thousands of American lives were spent in vain.

Anger cannot blind America this time. The ills of the past 6 years of the war should not be taken into account when considering the course of action that should be taken. The politicians of the Democratic majority will attempt to make good on their campaign promises and withdraw from Iraq with haste and without thought – they must be stopped. This important foreign policy decision should be made by level heads without considering their re-election bids in 2010 and 2012.

The strongest rebuke of the Slow Withdrawal argument is the high price of the war (estimated at $8-$12 billion per month, or roughly $120 billion per year). To refute that argument, one merely has to point a finger at the sloppily-executed $700 billion bailout passed before the end of President Bush’s term and the $300+ billion stimulus package that looks to pass through the Congress and Senate, both of which are still enthralled by the inspiring new President. Instead of giving the government $700 billion more to allocate poorly, why not just cut taxes to alleviate the burden on the average American and continue to spend for the next couple of years on Iraq? This alternative will save the United States money while boosting both its domestic and foreign profile.

Let the soldiers finish their job without an arbitrary deadline hanging over their head. The U.S. does not plan to (and does not want to) stay in Iraq for 100 years, as oft quoted; the Slow Withdrawal plan should be completed by the next presidential election (how convenient). The wrongs America has done to the Iraqi people will be multiplied if after all this struggle, Iraq remains a chaotic autocracy. America owes Iraq peace. American needs to finish its job first, then exit with grace and leave Iraq for its citizens to build into whatever it is destined to become.

Written by acs2008

January 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Speaker Pelosi’s Big Mouth

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Global economic markets went awry again after the $700 billion bailout bill failed in the House of Representatives by a narrow 208-225 margin. Some of the blame lies with the stubborn House Republicans, yes, but a lot of the blame can be put straight on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s shoulders (D-CA).

Trying to round up the required amount of votes needed to pass the bill, Speaker Pelosi delivered a sharply partisan speech on the House floor. Here are some excerpts, from the Guardian

“[W]hen was the last time someone asked you for $700 billion? It is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush administration’s failed economic policies — policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything-goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.”

“Democrats believe in the free market, which can and does create jobs, wealth, and capital, but left to its own devices it has created chaos.”

“Democrats insisted that legislation responding to this crisis must protect the American people and Main Street from the meltdown on Wall Street. The American people did not decide to dangerously weaken our regulatory and oversight policies. They did not make unwise and risky financial deals. They did not jeopardise the economic security of the nation. And they must not pay the cost of this emergency recovery and stabilisation bill.”

“Today we will act to avert this crisis, but informed by our experience of the past eight years with the failed economic leadership … We choose a different path. In the new year, with a new Congress and a new president, we will break free with a failed past and take America in a new direction to a better future.”

Even I, a mere first-year political science student, can see what an incredible misstep this speech was. To throw this partisan bile into the faces of the Republican representatives who were swallowing their partisan views to do what the country needs is inexcusable. To have risen to the level of Speaker of the House, Mrs. Pelosi must be a skilled politician, which makes this foot-in-mouth moment all the more confusing. She was supposed to pat the House Republicans on the head; instead, she kicked them right in the nether-regions.

After the failure of the bill, the Republican House leadership denounced the speech and blamed it for the failure of the bill. According to them, about a dozen Republican reps. had been so put off by Pelosi’s speech that they decided to vote “nay” rather than “yes.” With those dozen Republicans, the bill would have passed 220-213.

Of course, changing your vote and potentially destroying the American and global economy because of a petty reason such as a divisive speech is silly. Then again, these Republican representatives are human after all, aren’t they? They may be educated and the leaders of the nation, but they’re still susceptible to human stubbornness.

The fault lies with Pelosi then, for giving those Republicans an out like this. Instead of acting like a leader and lauding this historic effort that involved bi-partisan support in both houses of Congress and even from the Bush White House, Pelosi used her floor time to mouth off the same old Democratic partisan line. (Perhaps she hoped the dramatics would captivate the couple dozen potential voters watching her on CSPAN to vote Democrat!) According to ABC News, the ensuing disaster on Wall Street cost stockholders $1.1 billion in stock value today – more than double the amount of the bailout plan itself.

Egos have the dangerous capacity to destroy. Whose ego will take the blame for this debacle?