DEFENSE SPENDING -- (House of Representatives - March 4, 2009)
Mr. DUNCAN. Madam Speaker, the President has announced we will soon be sending an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing our total there to approximately 55,000.
A few days ago, I read a one-line mention in a story that the Defense Department, which is now the Department of Foreign Aid, was going to spend $100 million to build a new road in Afghanistan. I think our Founding Fathers would think we had flipped out or lost our minds to spend $100 million to build a road in Afghanistan, especially since we are over $11 trillion in debt and thus are spending money that we do not have. Of course, $100 million is just a tiny drop in the bucket of the billions and billions that we have spent over there since 2001, in an impoverished country that is no realistic threat to us whatsoever.
Of course, every giant bureaucracy is doing everything it can to expand its mission and exaggerating its threats so it can get more money. That is what the war in Afghanistan is really all about--money and power instead of any real threat.
According to the Congressional Research Service, we have spent $173 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, and as far as I'm concerned, it's pouring money down a rat hole. It is a complete waste. I think if there are any fiscal conservatives left in Congress, they should be horrified by the waste that is going on over there.
General Petraeus said in an article in the Washington Post a few days ago that the situation in Afghanistan, despite all of this money, has deteriorated markedly in the past 2 years. Those were his words. He said Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires, and if we're not careful, it's going to help be the graveyard of our empire as well.
Professor Ian Lustick of the University of Pennsylvania wrote recently about the money feeding frenzy of the war on terror and he wrote this: ``Nearly 7 years after September 11, 2001, what accounts for the vast discrepancy between the terrorist threat facing America and the scale of our response? Why, absent any evidence of a serious terror threat, is a war on terror so enormous, so all-encompassing, and still expanding?
The fundamental answer is that Al Qaeda's most important accomplishment was not to hijack our planes but to hijack our political system.
For a multitude of politicians, interest groups and professional associations, corporations, media organizations, universities, local and State governments, and Federal agency officials, the war on terror is now a major profit center, a funding bonanza, and a set of slogans and soundbites to be inserted into budget, project, grant, and contract proposals.''
And finally, Professor Lustick wrote, ``For the country as a whole, however, it has become a maelstrom of waste.''
Now we have a national debt of $11.315 trillion, an incomprehensible figure--and the GAO tells us in addition that we have over $55 trillion in unfunded future pension liabilities.
It's just not going to be long at all before we're not going to be able to pay all of our Social Security and Medicare, veterans pensions, and all the things we have promised our own people if we don't stop spending money in ridiculously wasteful ways.
And, of course, what does the Defense Department tell us? Just as they always do: What they want is more money to spend in Afghanistan and more troops in every place else.
Bruce Fein, who was a high-ranking official in the Reagan administration, wrote just a few days ago in the Washington Times that it is ridiculous that we now have troops in 135 countries and approximately 1,400 military installations around the world. And he said we should redeploy our troops to the United States.
He said, ``No country would dare attack our defenses and our retaliatory capability would be invincible. Esprit de corps would be at its zenith because soldiers would be fighting to protect American lives on American soil, not Afghan peasants.''
And he wrote this: ``The redeployment would end the United States casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, it would end the foreign resentments or enemies created by unintended killing of civilians and the insult to pride excited by foreign occupation.''
At the end of this column, he wrote: ``The American empire should be abandoned and the republic restored. The United States would be safer, freer, and wealthier.'' And, Madam Speaker, I can tell you, I agree with him.