Afghan war will cost another $60 billion

The war in Afghanistan may cost another $60 billion dollars and last ten more years, even if U.S. forces start leaving the country in 2011, said potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights.

A NATO training-mission document recently uncovered by the Associated Press estimated it would cost about $6 billion dollars a year to train Afghani military and police forces. Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander in Afghanistan, has said that a successful counter-insurgency operation could last another ten years.

“That means this war will cost at least another $60 billion to finish a job we never should have started,” said R. Lee Wrights. “No wonder our country is going broke.”

Even with the training the NATO document acknowledges that Afghanistan will remain largely dependent on U.S. forces for security for years. The document also includes plans for large-scale infrastructure projects for “establishing enduring institutions” and “creating irreversible momentum” according to AP sources.

“The only ‘irreversible momentum’ we’re creating is the irreversible momentum driving America deeper and deeper into debt,” Wrights said. “And the only ‘enduring institutions’ we’re creating is the enduring institution of a welfare-warfare State that supports corrupt governments under the guise of fighting terrorism.”

Wrights said he’s troubled by comments Petraeus has made about the withdrawal of American troops, which is supposed to begin in July 2011.

“He seems to be hedging his bets,” Wrights said. After nine years of war, Petraeus said that it is just now that the United States has the organization and people in place to fight a counter-insurgency operation.

“The general is reputed to be an expert on this type of warfare and has said it can take years, even decades, to wage successfully,” Wrights says. “So if we are just getting started now, it could take ten more years to ‘finish the job.’ That’s unacceptable.”

Wrights is also troubled by the fact that the general refers to July 2011 as the date “when a process begins, the pace of which is determined by conditions on the ground.” Petraeus characterized the process as a “thinning out” of U.S. forces, rather than a “turning over” of security for their own country to Afghanistan’s citizens and authorities.

“We have already endured one war where the generals and politicians kept telling us they were seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ but that light never got any closer,” Wrights said.

Petraeus recently spoke out against plans by a Florida minister to burn the Qur’an, saying that the action would put American troops in danger.

“What is a greater danger to American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen is keeping them in a war we should not have started in the first place, helping prop up a corrupt government,” Wrights said. “If we truly want to keep our troops safe, we should bring them home now.”

Wrights is considering seeking the LP presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. He has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.

R. Lee Wrights, 52, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. Born in Winston-Salem, he is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.

Obama is shockingly pro-war

President Obama’s announcement of the end of the combat mission in Iraq was a ridiculous and false statement and shows that the president is as shockingly pro-war as his predecessor, said the chair of the Libertarian Party.

“President Obama needs to stop lying,” said Mark Hinkle. “He repeated the ridiculous and false claim that the U.S. combat mission is over in Iraq. He seems to think that if he keeps talking about the war in a nice way, then the war isn’t really happening.”

Even though he is the one person with the authority to withdraw U.S. military forces from Iraq, Hinkle said the president has chosen to keep risking the lives of 50,000 Americans and bleeding taxpayers.

“Contrary to his rhetoric before being elected, the president has proven himself to be shockingly pro-war,” Hinkle said. “In addition to sustaining the American war presence in Iraq, he has greatly escalated the war in Afghanistan.”

All the Libertarian candidates for Congress in North Carolina agree that ending the war means bringing all the troops home. “It does not end until all troops are back on American soil,” said Tom Rose, Libertarian candidate for U.S. House District 12.

On his website, Libertarian U.S. Senate Mike Beitler writes, “The best thing we can do for our troops is to bring them home. “America cannot afford to serve as the policeman of the world, nor does it have the authority to do so.”

The Republicans are equally to blame because they have consistently failed to oppose the terrible financial impact of these wars, while claiming to champions of small government, Hinkle said.

“They want to nit-pick Obama’s past statements about the war, but in fact they should be showering him with praise for doing exactly what they want,” he said.

Hinkle called the conflict the “Bush-Obama war” and said it has been “shameful from the beginning.” Even if the U.S. military success in imposing democracy, he said that the effort is not worth the thousands of American lives and billions of dollars lost in the process.

“The Bush-Obama War in Iraq has done nothing to safeguard the rights of Americans — on the contrary, it has probably made Americans less safe, and certainly poorer,” he said. “The purpose of the U.S. armed forces is to defend the territory of the United States, not to re-engineer foreign societies.”

“Just like his predecessor, Obama believes that government force is the answer to everything.”

The Libertarian Party believes U.S. foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements, including intervention and military and economic aid.

Wrights says close the book on Iraq war

It’s time do more than just “turn the page” on America’s foreign wars. We should close the book and put it pack on the shelf, said potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights in response to President Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday night.

“President Obama said he was announcing that ‘the American combat mission in Iraq’ has ended and that it was time to ‘turn the page’ on a ‘remarkable chapter in American history,” Wrights said. “It is time to do more than just turn the page. It is time to close the book of war, put it back on the shelf, and never refer to it again.”

“There is nothing remarkable about this chapter in American history,” Wrights said. “If the president really wanted to end the war he would simply tell the joint chiefs to draw up a plan to remove every last American solider, sailor, airman and marine from the region as quickly and safely as possible.”

“If the president really wanted to honor the sacrifices made by America’s men and women in uniform, he would not continue to put them in harm’s way unnecessarily,” Wrights said.

Wrights said that President Obama was elected on the expectation that he would end America’s interventionist foreign policy, but from the words he used in this address it appears he is going to continue this policy and use different language to hide his intentions.

For example, Wrights noted that while the president said the combat mission is ending, he said our commitment to Iraq is not. The president also said a transitional force will remain to advise and assist Iraqi security forces, support Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions and protect civilians. In fact, as the last “combat” troops leave Iraq, fifty thousand troops will remain behind.

“In other words, our soldiers and marines will still be going on patrol, getting shot at, and possibly getting killed, but the president won’t call it combat operations,” Wrights said. He noted that the infantry brigades still in Iraq have been renamed “advise and assist” brigades.

“It is shameful the way politicians will parse words in order to justify and obscure their actions; and, it is disgraceful that any president who refers to himself as the commander-in-chief would use such a tactic to disguise the service of the men and women he is supposed to command.”

“It is disturbing the way the president casually dismissed the fact that this war was fought for a lie,” Wrights said. The president said that what began as “a war to disarm a state became a fight against insurgency.”

“It is distressing that President Obama admitted that the war has cost us one trillion dollars, most of it borrowed for other nations, and contributed to our debt, yet he doesn’t miss a beat in calling for even more government spending,” Wrights said. “He shows absolutely no signs that he is going to change anything in American foreign policy when he said America ‘must use all elements of our power to secure our interests and stand by our allies.'”

Wrights is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud and unequivocal call to stop all war. He has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.

The 52-year old Wrights, a Winston-Salem native, is writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.

From Wrights for President Exploratory Committee press release

True cost of war more than a trillion dollars

The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has surpassed one trillion dollars, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While this figure is staggering, a Libertarian presidential hopeful said that the real cost of these conflicts to our economy and our liberty is even more staggering.

“One trillion dollars is an almost incomprehensible number, but what is even more incomprehensible is the fact that most of that cost is borrowed money,” said R. Lee Wrights, former Libertarian Party national vice chair and the editor and co-founder of Liberty for All, an online free speech magazine.

“The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“The federal government borrows about 43 cents of every dollar it spends, and then uses it to build schools, roads and hospitals in countries where we’re partly responsible for destroying that infrastructure,” he said. “That’s not only insane, it’s immoral.”

Wrights said that he is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud and unequivocal call to stop all war. Wrights, 52, was born in Winston-Salem and lived in North Carolina most of his life. He now lives and works in Texas.

“The Libertarian Party faces a critical test in 2012 and I want to make sure that we’re up to the challenge,” Wrights said. “The Libertarian message in 2012 must be loud and clear – stop all wars! Stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the war on drugs and alternative lifestyles, stop the war on civil liberties.”

“When we first invaded Iraq we were told that the ‘war would pay for itself’ because Iraq had the oil resources,” Wrights said. He noted that Paul Wolfowitz, then assistant secretary of defense, told Congress in March 2003, “There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

“That hasn’t happened. Instead, the federal government has simply printed or borrowed the money to rebuild what’s been destroyed,” Wrights said. “Politicians are treating war spending like an open checkbook. As long as they have checks, they keep writing them without bothering to balance the account.”

The 2010 military budget is $700 billion. In real terms, defense spending is more today than at any time during the Cold War, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, according to Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute.

“To justify its budget, the Defense Department said it was not enough to have a military capable of deterring or responding to aggression,” Wrights said. “Incredibly, defense officials actually claimed it was ‘vital’ the United States be ‘a force for good by engaging with and helping positively to shape the world.’”

“Our founder’s would be appalled,” Wrights said. “They predicted that war would be the most dreaded threat to our liberties. They told us that from war would proceed mean debt, taxes, fraud and degeneracy of morals. They warned us that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Wrights has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.

Afghanistan war is not essential, president should end it now

The war in Afghanistan is not essential, the president has the power to end it, and he should do so immediately, a Libertarian Party official said following President’s Obama’s surprise visit to that country.

“President Obama just called the Afghanistan War ‘absolutely essential.’ Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Wes Benedict, LP executive director. “The U.S. armed forces are being used for nation-building. The president, as commander-in-chief, has the power to end this war, and he should begin doing so immediately.”

Benedict said the war’s cost is staggering in both lives and money. He said forcing American taxpayers to pay hundreds of billions of dollars for the “counterproductive effort” is deeply unjust.

“Even worse, the American effort in Afghanistan is propping up a hopelessly corrupt government, which is alienating the Afghan people and causing them to blame the United States even more for their problems,” he said. “There is zero chance that American military power will create a stable and honest government in Afghanistan.”

Even if that were possible, it would still lie completely outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, Benedict said.

While the Libertarian Party recognizes that the United States faces some threat of terrorism, they contend that fighting foreign wars is one of the worst possible ways to deal with the threat.

“Terrorism in the United States is a significant threat to our citizens, but we do not stop terrorists overseas by invading their sovereign homeland,” said Lon Cecil, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress in District 12. He said the United States should withdraw it military forces from overseas and use them to secure our borders, using the same techniques perfected by Israel to screen travelers.

“Disturbingly, President Obama is demonstrating a complete faith in government power in almost every aspect of American policy. From foreign wars, to the economy, to health care, the president thinks that government power is always the solution,” said Benedict.

Libertarians contend that government power, which is always enforced by coercion, is usually the problem.

“War supporters often say that if we leave Afghanistan without ‘winning’ it would be a slap in the face of the soldiers who have fought and died there. But there’s nothing in Afghanistan to win,” Benedict said. “American soldiers have been brave enough to fight and die in Afghanistan, but cowardly politicians want to send more to their deaths just so they can save face at home.”

Cecil said that since 1946 few of the many U.S. military interventions overseas, even those under the auspices of the U.N., “have been no more of a ‘win’ than the ‘drug war.’” While he honors the sacrifice made by all those who have fought and died, he said that it is more important for the “mothers and fathers of those soldiers to see their living faces.”

Libertarians believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy, as practiced by George Washington, John Adams,Thomas Jefferson and most of our early presidents. They want the United States to return to its historical libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, foreign quarrels, and military adventures. The only legitimate role of the military is to defend America against direct attack or the imminent threat of attack.

“Terrorist conflicts are inherently guerrilla battles, not uniformed wars,” Cecil said. “Only local armies can tell which persons are combatants and which are truly civilians, not the sort of war where foreign troops are appropriate.”

More disconnected dots

Just after the underwear bomber set his BVDs on fire on Christmas day, several Obama administration officials were quick to point out that the anti-terrorist system worked.  Yes, the system worked — because the alleged terrorist was a jerk and the airline passengers took him down.

A few days later, the administration changed its tune, calling the incident  a “systemic failure.”  That’s government code for saying, “we screwed up, the hundreds of security measures we’ve put in place in violation of basic rights don’t work, our  agents are incompetent,  but no one is going to be punished.”

Yesterday, after a two-hour huddle in the White House (no word on whether beer was served), the president is supposedly taking a hard line. He now says the failure of the State Department, the security screeners, intelligence analysts and other assorted government agents to “connect the dots” is “not acceptable. I will not tolerate it.” Of course, he didn’t name any names; he didn’t fire anyone. He did promise to “do better.”

Meanwhile, the homeland security apparatchiks have added 14 nations — including Cuba, a major hot bed of Muslim extremism.




Like Vietnam, but without the humidity

“Just give us 30,000 more troops, and we can win the war.”

“The situation demands urgent attention and swift action.”

“We cannot allow democracy to fail.”

Where have we heard all this before?

It’s disheartening to those of us who grew up in the Vietnam era to see today’s politicians and military leaders mouth the same, empty phrases. They have learned nothing from Vietnam. Sure, there are differences. The world is diffrent. But the basics are much the same. We’re using 21st Century weaponry to try to a destroy a guerrilla insurgency that uses 16th, 17th and 18th Century tactics. We’re propping up a corrupt, ineffective and unpopular government, and relying on regional “allies” with governments just as corrupt, ineffective and unpopular.

It won’t work.

Remarkable event

The Independence Day Family Tea Party on Halifax Square was a remarkable event. Visitors to our Libertarian table were genuinely interested in understanding our philosophy and asked sincere questions about our views. There were only one or two of the usual “you don’t have a chance” comments or accusations that we “take votes away” from other candidates that have a”chance to win.” In other words, the generally conservative crowd was sympathetic, not confrontational.

Don't Feed the AnimalsThis poster was quite popular.

The event boosted my belief that many people in this grassroots movement “get it’.” They recognize that the problem is endemic to the “two-party” system.

Michael Beitler, who’s considering seeking the Libertarian nomination for U.S. Senate, spoke at the event. Here are his remarks (with notes on the crowd reaction):

Continue reading

A good speech, but wait for the action

Before I started listening to the political pundits piously pontificate about President Obama’s Cairo speech, and read the speech. I generally try to read the original document whenever there is some “breaking news” story. You’d be surprised at what you learn.

My view is that is was a pretty good speech. The president made some comments I don’t think I’ve heard a president make before. For one, in the third paragraph he acknowledged that the West powers have intervened in the Middle East for their own purposes, without regard to the interests of the people in the region.

He said the tension has been “fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”  Speaking of our relations with Iran, he acknowledged the “dirty little secret” most conservatives don’t want to admit, that “In the midst of the Cold are, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government.”

President Obama gave Islam credit for “paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightened.” In case you missed it, this refers to the historic fact that the Arab world preserved much of the learning and righting of the Greek and Roman civilizations during Europe’s Dark Ages.

While reasserting the “unbreakable” bond between Israel and the United States and the right of Israel to exist as a nation, he also asserted that the Palestinians deserve the same right.

Most libertarians should be able to agree with these points. Yes, it was a good speech … but … of course, it remains to be seen if Obama’s actions will match his rhetoric.

Read the speech.

More 'change we can believe in?'

President Obama, warning that the “situation is increasingly perilous” is sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan to “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”  And his subordinates are making veiled threats to shoot down a North Korean ICBM. Isn’t it great to have those warmonger neocons like George Bush and Dick Cheny out of office?