Looks like Obama lied again. Surprise! According to a document obtained by NBC News, it appears that the U.S. may continue funding the Afghanistan government and have a military presence in that country indefinitely. KABUL – While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of […]
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U.S. Likely to be in Afghanistan Indefinitely
Since the 2013 federal deficit was calculated to be a five-year low of $680 billion, many media voices have incorrectly proclaimed victory over deficit concerns, at least in the short run. One of those voices is Eduardo Porter at The New York Times . Porter’s inaccurate claims are numerous. This post will focus on two. First, how Porter’s argument that austerity measures have been implemented in the United States ignores reality. Second, how his claim that “austerity shrinks the economy in the short term, often more than it shrinks the burden of public debt” ignores the long-term benefits of budget cuts. First, there has been no austerity in America. The federal budget has gone up by almost $800 billion from fiscal year 2007 (the year before the recession started) through fiscal year 2013. It has gone down since 2009, but only by approximately $30 billion. A $30 billion cut—largely because of lower spending on unemployment benefits and war, as the economy has improved and the U.S. has transitioned out of Iraq and Afghanistan—is hardly “austerity.” As a related side note, Porter criticizes tax increases and spending cuts as “austerity” measures, but focuses a great deal more attention on spending cuts—cuts that simply haven’t happened since the recession started. Interestingly, Porter cites the International Monetary Fund (MF) for his 2009 to 2014 austerity claim—that two-thirds of U.S. deficits on all government levels will disappear in that five-year period. However, not only does he fail to cite a specific report, leaving readers guessing, but a Global Finance Magazine article citing a December 2012 IMF report shows America’s deficit will drop by approximately 56 percent, not the two-thirds Porter claims, over that time period. On a scale of trillions of dollars, being off by 10 percent is quite a significant error. Moving on, Porter’s claim about short-term harm to the economy via austerity ignores the medium-term and long-term economic pictures. CBO’s February projections estimate that implementing $4 trillion in spending cuts over a decade as compared to increasing spending by $2 trillion (a $6 trillion difference in spending) over the same time period would harm the economy in the immediate short term, but leave it much, much stronger in future years. Related, Porter’s claim about economic harm as a result of aggressive budget cuts and/or entitlement reforms sidesteps how the economy is being hurt right now by high national debt. Given that harm, and the size of America’s debt, the deficit—which is the annual negative difference between revenues and expenses—should be eliminated , not diminished. This would shrink America’s debt-to-GDP ratio quickly, thus improving America’s ability to actually grow and provide economic benefits to all Americans, not just the wealthy and those with Washington connections.
Scientology has rotted whatever brain cells he had… Via TMZ: Tom Cruise not only thinks he trains harder than Olympic athletes, he believes his job as a professional actor is as grueling as fighting the war in Afghanistan — this according to legal docs obtained by TMZ. As we reported, Cruise recently sat for a
Psst. Wanna buy a used aircraft carrier on the cheap? She’s a real beauty, the Navy’s first “supercarrier.” She’s over 1,000 feet long, displaces 60,000 tons, can do 33 knots, and carry 85 aircraft. She boast a number of firsts….first carrier with an angled deck, steam catapults, and optical landing system. The USS Forrestal (affectionately known in the Navy as USS Forest Fire or USS Zippo due to a tragic flight deck fire that killed 134 sailors) was commissioned in 1955 at a cost of $217 million. With dozens of deployments over the years, she supported combat operations in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as numerous missions as part of the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Actually, if you were interested in picking up this carrier at a deeply discounted price, you’re a little late. The Navy just sold that beauty for a song. Or rather, the Navy decided to scrap the super carrier and actually paid a contractor one cent to take the multi-million dollar ship off its hands. Later this year the carrier will be towed from Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she was in mothballs, to Brownsville, Texas, where she is to be scrapped and the material recycled.
There is an interesting documentary that runs on the National Geographic TV channel entitled Border Wars . The series chronicles the continuing battle by American law enforcement — primarily the Border Patrol and DEA — to inhibit the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S. The title is misleading because the “war” tends to involve little bloodshed, as neither the organized criminal smugglers nor the border agents want the commerce in narcotics and people to become a combat affair – unlike the case in Mexico itself. There are incidents, of course, where officials and innocents are killed or wounded on the U.S. side. This was the case of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry killed, killed by a weapon from the “Fast and Furious” project, and the mysterious shooting of a long time Arizona rancher whose property was crossed regularly by smugglers. A great deal of press attention was given to the killing of an official ICE agent traveling by car to inspect facilities in the northern provinces of Mexico and the tourist David Hartley who was shot and presumably drowned on his jet ski-boat on Falcon Lake. Nonetheless, as lamentable as these deaths have been, for an armed adversarial contest the casualties tend to be low and more involved with exploitation of the undocumented migrants both during and after their hazardous journey to the United States. The real war, and bloody battling, takes place within Mexico itself where, depending on current alliances, thousands can die every year. A key operational question at this time is the determination of how the rival narcotics groups are continuing to divide the areas of domination (turf) ever since one of the leaders of the key “cartels,” Los Zetas , was killed last fall and his replacement, Miguel Trevino Morales, captured in July. Unfortunately there is no sign that there is any desire to run these illegal businesses in any fashion other than through the most bloody discipline and means of competition. It appears that there is truly a bloodthirstiness that equals the religious rites of the ancient indigenous tribes of the region. Only the weapons are different. While the American border areas with Mexico tend to be relatively free of deadly contest between law enforcement and Mexican criminal gangs, the armed conflict between and among the urban drug gangs in the United States continues apace. Chicago’s murder rate attests to that fact. What is in effect an armistice between U.S. border police and the criminal “transporters” from Mexico is maintained by an unwritten agreement that the American agents will not fire on cross-border operations unless they perceive their lives threatened. The traffickers from the Mexican side are careful to surrender peacefully when caught. Except in the cases of dangerous rock-throwing by Mexican toughs on the other side of the fence lines, very rarely is this armistice broken. In this manner reportedly $20 billion to $40 billion (depending on the year) gained from illegal narcotics and human trafficking has become a staple of the Mexican economy as truck loads of greenbacks are hauled, carried, sailed, and flown southward. All the horrific battling over territory, route control, and administration occurs in Mexico – and starts again in American cities. The actual border crossing remains relatively peaceful. The security of the U.S./Mexico border is thus maintained both by a vigilant U.S. border force and a sophisticated entente between the opposing interests. The major drug cartels had found the safest way to repatriate their profits from the sale of their “products” in the U.S. was to invest it wherever and whenever they could and then regain the profits in legal transfers via other countries. The recent recession has made profitable investments in the United States and Canada harder to find, thus requiring the more hazardous transportation south of the vast amounts of physical cash. The upturn in the domestic American economy has once again allowed drug money to flow into legitimate enterprise, but still large amounts travel to Mexico the old fashioned way. A great deal of discussion in the American press has been devoted to the need to prevent terrorists from slipping across the border in the Southwest. Supposedly this is one of the justifications for requiring strong border security. The reality is that the drug cartels with their illegal immigration sideline also want to make sure that foreign terrorists do not use the same pathways to slip into the U.S. It’s hard enough getting their illegal customers across the border without having the gringos go crazy over catching terrorists. It is well understood by all the drug bosses, no matter their relative power, that any indication of cartel-affiliated knowing assistance in the infiltration of terrorists will be countered by a full scale U.S. military action securing the border from Texas to California. The level of the military presence would be massive. This is just what the illicit narcotics business and the Mexican government do not want to have happen. It has been made clear that any serious sign of terrorist use of the smuggling routes would result in the establishment of an Afghanistan-like special operations force roaming about both sides of the southwest border. This type of military activity is not unknown to this area of the Southwest and would change the entire border environment — to say nothing of the vast amount of legal commerce between the two nations. At this stage peaceful relations between the United States and Mexico depend on the maintenance of the Mexican government and drug cartel’s commitment to protecting the U.S. from terrorist infiltration… and our southern neighbors well know it. Illicit immigration and drug interdiction appear to be a secondary priority between the two nations despite the highly publicized coverage of the border.
Originally posted here:
Gray Side of Border Security